Traverse City Light & Power Approves Contracts to Build Fiber Broadband Network

Fiber broadband is coming to Traverse City.

Traverse City Light & Power approved contracts to start building and operating a public network at their meeting Tuesday.

Japanese company Fujitsu will install Phase I of the $3.3 million project.

Phase I will service downtown homes and businesses. It will be the first trial of the network and Light & Power will be able to see how it works and make adjustments on the next phases of the project that they hope to expand to all of their customers.

The project will be installed this summer and Light & Power will start signing customers up by the fall.

Board member Amy Shamroe says the project will help make Traverse City a competitive city.

“We will always be a tourist town but this will help us from being a tourist town into being a place where people want to locate,” said Shamroe. “We’ll be able to be competitive with larger cities like Grand Rapids, Detroit, Chicago and New York.”

The network will pay for itself in five years if the board attracts 402 residents and 378 businesses to sign up. It’s not certain what the cost will be yet.

Traverse City Light & Power will be the only internet service provider on the network.

Mike Tusan of Mike’s Computer Store in Traverse City says having just one provider could monopolize the internet.

“One company means no competition, so whether they want to raise prices or lower prices is their determination,” said Tusan. “I’m not for it at all.”

Others at Tuesday’s board meeting were not totally sold on the project, either. They expressed concerns about potential costs to taxpayers if the timeline fell behind or if the service was not economically successful.

Shamroe is looking forward to T.C. having high speed internet and the potential hook for entrepreneurs and businesses to move to the area.

“It will allow Traverse City to be a much more competitive area,” said Shamroe.