The Fond du Lac (FDLCAN) area fiber optic project began in 2010 through a bond approved by the City of Fond du Lac City Council along with an agreement between the City of Fond du Lac and the Fond du Lac School District. This fiber infrastructure was created to improve LAN/WAN connectivity between the City of Fond du Lac facilities. In addition, the Fond du Lac Technology Services department had foresight and with an eye to the future built in reserve capacity that one day would allow other entities (including municipal government agencies, educational institutions, healthcare entities, not-for-profit and non-profit agencies) to access very high-speed LAN/WAN and/or internet services in the Fond du Lac area.

Fond du Lac CAN provides fiber network, optional internet access services. The Fond du Lac CAN also reduces the cities costs of high-speed connectivity to other government and educational institutions. Additionally, City of Fond du Lac continually works locally and with the state and federal government to improve high-speed connectivity.  Furthermore,  Fond du Lac CAN provides the network that allows free public WiFi internet access to City buildings including the Lakeside Park Harbor and a number of parks.

Fond du Lac CAN consists of approximately 35+ miles of primarily underground fiber infrastructure as of Fall 2018 and is currently partially self-funded with fees covering portions of construction and operating costs. Fiber is a long term investment; underground fiber and its conduit have a life of at least 20 years, and some experts suggest fiber and conduit life could well exceed 50 years.

Benefits Now and In the Future

Today, fiber is provided only where there is both a clear, direct value to City operations and a financial benefit. With the national growth of community-based fiber networks and the increasing importance of high-speed internet, some communities have already moved to a full fiber infrastructure, such as the networks in Chattanooga (see Chattanooga, Tennessee’s GigCity) and Salisbury (Salisbury, North Carolina’s fibrant). There is national discussion regarding community-based high-speed internet, facilitated by fiber networks through groups such as the Fiber Broadband Association (For a list of other community networks both in Wisconsin and nationally, see Community Area Networks sidebar on page 3).

Other communities are legislating to improve fiber access, requiring conduit and fiber to be laid under every new road and connected to every new building – much like sewer, gas, electricity, and water. This type of requirement is referred to as a “dig once” ordinance and it is considered the most cost-effective method of implementing fiber connectivity.  City IT works closely with DPW on future construction projects to install empty conduit where there may be a future for fiber to be installed at a location.  We have done this on a number of construction projects saving the taxpayers and upgrading services.  Fond du Lac IT keeps an eye to the future – assessing the value of public, private and public/private partnerships to improve access and ensure availability of broadband and high-speed internet access for all the City constituents.

Long Term Goals

FDLCAN will continually partner to improve access to high-speed internet. Fiber can facilitate a broad range of high-speed communication technology and can be reused as other technology is retired. Community Area Networks such as FDLCAN are the foundation of SMART Cities’ technology initiatives. FDLCAN goals include:

  • Major expansions: to other nearby cities, villages, and other governmental facilities.
  • Working with municipalities to ensure they have fiber or full internet service if they choose to leverage FDLCAN.
  • This same fiber infrastructure will allow for development out to areas using wireless technology that it may be cost prohibitive to install fiber. (last mile installs)
  • Continue to work with school districts to improve access and reduce the digital divide.
  • Work with healthcare providers to improve rural healthcare access via the internet & FDLCAN.
  • Ensure we have multiple fiber paths in and out of the city.
  • Partner within the region: Work with neighboring cities and counties using fiber runs to allow for shared services, mutual aid and reduced telecommunication expenses.
  • Support directly or indirectly to ensure technology-dependent businesses are attracted to the region.
  • Facilitate business development. (Since first offering its fiber-optic service in 2012, Chattanooga, Tenn. has generated over $400 million in new business investments and 6,000 new jobs.)

Questions & Answers

Who qualifies to lease fiber or fiber & internet access?
Qualifying entities include schools, healthcare agencies, non-profit organizations, telecommunications agencies, municipalities and government entities. For-profit businesses residing in a qualifying business development zone are also eligible.