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New Richmond seeks faster Internet service

When it comes to ramping up Internet speeds in New Richmond, city officials and business leaders aren't going to wait for providers to solve the problem.

At the regular meeting of the Economic Development Commission March 7, City Administrator Mike Darrow suggested that the city create a new subcommittee to push the issue toward a resolution.

When the commission agreed, Darrow said the city would appoint representatives from large and small businesses, along with city leaders, to the group. The subcommittee would then develop a possible request for proposals to be sent to telecommunications companies that might be able to provide better Internet service to businesses and residents in the community.

Commission member Summer Seidenkranz, owner of National Refund & Marketing, said local businesses and community leaders have been battling with Frontier Communications for years in an effort to improve the reliability and speed of Internet connections. Previous efforts haven't worked, she told the commission.

Commissioner Judy Simon, co-owner of Simon Electric, agreed.

"I don't see Frontier putting the money into the community," she said. "They've not been real gung ho about helping us out."

Seidenkranz said the city's Internet service needs to improve or it may impede the community's efforts to attract new businesses to town.

In an effort to "get this thing rolling," Darrow said the new subcommittee would develop specifications about what businesses and residents require when it comes to Internet service. Then the city will advertise for proposals from any and all companies.

The hope is to find a telecommunications company, whether they currently do business in New Richmond or not, that will be willing to invest in equipment and fiber optics that will improve speeds and connection reliability locally. Currently Frontier and Northwest Communications offer Internet service to all or portions of the city, but some commissioners suggested that Baldwin Telecom might be interested in offering service in town.

Beth Thompson, economic development specialist for the city, said the eventual Internet provider would have to not only provide better service, but also offer more competitive pricing.

Darrow said the issue will be on future Economic Development Commission meeting agendas.

For the complete story, see this week's New Richmond News.