HBC gets cable franchise in Red WingA company that has been working for years to expand fiber optic services in Red Wing cleared a key administrative hurdle this week.
By: Danielle Killey, The Republican Eagle
A company that has been working for years to expand fiber optic services in Red Wing cleared a key administrative hurdle this week.
The City Council on Monday approved a cable franchise for Hiawatha Broadband Communications.
"I think it gives the community some options and brings competition," Council President Ralph Rauterkus said. "It's very positive for the city and bringing in businesses."
HBC will compete with Charter Communications in providing area residents and businesses with cable, telephone and Internet.
While HBC can -- and does -- offer telephone and Internet services without specific approval from City Hall, the company is required by state law to have a franchise to offer cable TV services.
The cable franchise approved Monday completes the "three-legged stool" of service, Rauterkus said.
"They believe that having that third component for video really helps them with the competition aspect," Rauterkus said.
The company will be expanding its fiber network in both private and public arenas. The fiber itself delivers voice, video and data, said Laura Blair, city information technology director.
"It's all very much tied together," she said.
As part of the cable franchise, which has a term of 10 years, HBC will provide fiber to the city's public locations as well, Blair said.
HBC has been in talks with Red Wing to expand into the city for at least five years, CEO Gary Evans said.
"We tried a variety of ways to get it done," he said.
HBC had applied for stimulus dollars for the Red Wing project but was rejected.
"We decided that's no reason to stop thinking about this," Evans said. "The board of directors stepped up and made the investment."
The city has supported HBC's efforts, and many council members have said fiber availability will be a draw to Red Wing for businesses and families.
Many area businesses are already using HBC's Internet services, Evans said. The city thought it would be a while before residential services would be available, Blair said, but HBC applied for a cable franchise in January.
HBC hopes this year to finish construction on the business community services and begin residential construction, which is slated to take up to three years to complete, Evans said.
The Winona-based company is also planning expansion throughout southeast Minnesota, including Lake City, and is in talks with Cannon Falls and Dakota County, he said.