News & Updates
The contractor is in town and has set up their offices and warehouse. Materials and supplies are arriving on a daily basis. Construction efforts have already started in Phase 2 and 3 … setting ground anchors, some underground boring, and a lot of the essential "preliminary" tasks, preparing to hang fiber from utility poles, or bury it underground in conduit.
Fiber Optic network cabling is experiencing tremendous demand around the world. Lead times in Phase 1 were in the 4 to 6 week. The project hit a snag when the fiber for Phase 2 and 3 was ordered 6 weeks ago. Lead times are now in the 24 to 28 week range -- expected to hit the 52 to 60 week range before the end of the year. There's a lot of prep work that needs to be done before fiber can actually be strung between utility poles though, so at least at this point the project timeline has not been impacted. The ETA completion date for Phases 2 and 3 is still May, 2021.
The City Commission approved combining Phase 2 and 3 into a single Phase and that the construction contract will be awarded to Trans-Tel, LLC. Once the contract documents are signed, Trans-Tel has 30 days to get to Ponca City and begin construction. The combined areas of town are estimated to take 40 weeks to complete. With an August 1, 2020 target start date, that means construction should be complete by May, 2021. As construction is finished in each particular service area (there are 28 service areas in Phase 2 and 3) homes in those service areas will be able to connect and receive internet service. The first service area is expected to be completed before the end of calendar year 2020.
Phase 2 is the Southwest part of Ponca City; Phase 3 is the Northwest part. Combined with the already finished Phase 1 area, all the homes inside the City limits on the West side of N 14th St. will be able to connect and receive service. Ponca City Broadband will be mailing postcards to homes, announcing the date those homes will be able to receive service.
Construction bids for Phase 2 and Phase 3 have been published. Bid opening will be in early June, with a recommendation for the path forward presented to the PCUA Board of Trustees during their meeting on June 22, 2020. The contractor should be in town to begin Phase 2 by August 1, 2020 ... with a completion date of January, 2021. Phase 2 includes all homes West of N 14th St, and South of Highland Ave. Phase 3 includes all homes West of N 14th St, and North of Highland Ave. If both phases can be built at the same time, every home (and business) inside the City limits and West of N 14th will be eligible for service.
|The project engineer is making final changes to the design and staking sheets for Phase 2 and 3. Overall the project is still on schedule. Ponca City Broadband staff will be working with the project engineer over the next several weeks to assemble the bid documents. Target date to open the bidding window is 2nd quarter, 2020 (April). Ponca City Broadband continues to receive new connection requests (residential, as well as business). Our average wait time between sign up and installation is 1 to 3 days. Customer comments about the new utility service is very positive: the service works all the time, and people enjoy receiving the level of service they pay for each month. Many customers have seen phenomenal speed increases compared to their original service provider. Many customers also comment on not having data caps -- this is positively influencing their overall internet experience (they can do/watch what they want, when they want, without having to keep track of monthly data usage, possibly altering what they do on the internet towards the end of each month).|
|11/08/2019||Final engineering for Phase 2 and 3 has been completed. Crews from the engineering company are in town creating the staking sheets that the contractor will use to build the system. Staking sheets are essentially the blueprint of what will be built and is a slow, methodical process. The staking crews walk out every bit of the construction area, measuring the distance between each utility pole, making sure adequate clearance can be maintained from the ground to the fiber hanging from the poles. This process will continue until the entire area has been measured and mapped (ETA is January, 2020).|
|9/13/2019||The City Commission approved the next step of the project at this week’s Commission Meeting. Ponca City Broadband is working with the engineering firm to develop final design specifications and the staking sheets (aka: blueprints) for Phase 2 and 3 of the project. Phase 2 is the area West of N 14th St and South of Highland, all the way to the end of the City limits. Phase 3 is the area West of N 14th St and North of Highland, all the way to the end of the City limits. We want to design and bid both phases at the same time, in order to take advantage of potentially lower expenses, as well as speed the project along. We’ll actually bid the project as Phase 2 by itself, with Phase 3 as an "add-alternate". If pricing is good on the bid return we’ll recommend awarding both contracts at the same time. If not, we’ll recommend awarding Phase 2 and re-bidding Phase 3 a few months later. In any case, having Phase 2 and 3 completed means everyone on the West side of N 14th Street will have service capabilities. The estimated time for completing Phase 2 and 3 (if done together) is 1st quarter, 2021.|
|Our first week of real, live operations! Customers coming into Utility Billing to actually sign up for the service throughout the week are receiving phone calls within 24 hours to set up the in-home installation process. So far we’re hitting our goal of having the installation finished within just a few days of a customer actually requesting the service. Klaasmeyer Construction continues to clean up the areas they’ve been working in: topsoil, leveling the ground, and planting grass seed. The landscaping will return to normal appearances soon.|
|It’s official … Ponca City Broadband will open our doors for service at 8 AM on Monday, July 8, 2019. Customers in the Phase 1 area of town must come into the Utility Billing Office located at City Hall (516 E. Grand Avenue) to sign a utility agreement form (not a long-term contract, just a form similar to what was signed to obtain Energy and Water service ), select their service plan, and pay (or make arrangements to pay) the $200.00 activation fee. Once this step is done Ponca City Broadband will call to schedule an in-home installation date and time. The in-home installation is limited to penetrating one exterior wall (no attic, crawl space, or interior wall installations will be performed). Anyone desiring more installation work than this will be referred to any of the local installation companies in Ponca City providing in-home, interior-wall installations.|
|Klaasmeyer continued testing the fiber runs this week. Monte R. Lee and Company have been busy keeping up with Klaasmeyer (they have to certify each of the fiber traces as being within the parameters of the project scope). The inventory warehouse shelves are steadily filling up with materials and supplies needed for in-home installations. Customers who pre-signed up for the new Utility service should expect an email from Ponca City Broadband sometime next week, announcing the "open for business" date for Ponca City Broadband (ETA for that event is still expected to be July 8, 2019).|
|Network electronics have been fully installed and tested. Final fiber test results on the Transport ring and Northeast corner of Phase 1 have been completed, inspected, and accepted. Testing on the remaining areas of Phase 1 will continue over the next 2 to 3 weeks. We’re still looking good for a "doors open for business" the week of July 8, 2019.|
|All the outside plant work is finished (fiber is installed, neighborhood service pods are in place, and splice enclosures are hung). Klaasmeyer still has several fiber splicing teams in town, as well as testing teams. Each strand of fiber has to be tested and certified to function as expected and that’s what these teams are doing now. Background work is also in process now to finalize the business systems for the new Utility service (inventory/supplies, work orders, in-home installations, etc.). Everything is still looking good for a go-live on July 8, 2019.|
|All service drops to the homes who pre-signed up have been installed and the contractor is working in the last customer service area to install fiber. Klaasmeyer now has 7 fiber splicing crews in town; they are making final connections and fusion splicing each end of the fiber. The transport ring has been completed, tested and accepted. As soon as the splicing teams are finished in any given customer service areas (there are 7 areas in Phase 1), final testing and acceptance certification steps will be done. Anticipated date of go live is July 8, 2019!|
|Construction is back on track this week, but the contractor has officially requested a 3-week time extension to complete the project. This means the system will not be operational on our June 12 target date; rather, we’re now looking at July 3, 2019. The City Commissioners approved two new contractor agreements this week, both for performing service drops and in-home installations. Ponca City Broadband staff will be meeting with those contractors to go over the details of specific tasks to be accomplished during these two installation methods.|
|The weather this week has certainly hampered construction efforts. Not only was work stopped for a couple of days, some of the underground boring now has to be re-done … the massive amounts of water effectively closed up most of the unfinished work. I suspect that we are now looking at a possible delay in the project (possibly and much as 3 weeks). On the positive side: both internet backhaul circuits are now in operation, the major internal electronics to run the network were installed, tested, and handed over to Ponca City Broadband, and large numbers of the in-home electronics and installation materials are beginning to arrive.|
|Connection to the first of our two backhaul providers was successfully completed this week. We are now ready begin configuring the network electronics, preparing for the equipment manufacturer to be on site next week to set up their equipment and test many of the in-home components. The City Commissioners approved the service agreement form, customer service guidelines, acceptable use policy statement, and a Resolution establishing the fee structure for any lost or damaged equipment. All the orders were processed this week for the last bit of the in-home installation materials; they are in transit to Ponca City now. We have experienced no construction delays at this point in the project so we’re still looking good for a completion date of June 12, 2019 ... followed by final acceptance testing. This means we are still on track for potential first customers being brought on board by July 1st!|
|Major work has been accomplished this week, getting connections established to our two backhaul providers. Backhaul providers are the tier 1 internet providers we work with to establish connections to the rest of the world’s internet. Final installation of both of these circuits will be completed by middle of next week. Klaasmeyer Construction has steadily been pre-connecting to the sides of homes on our pre-sign up list. In-home installations will be much faster for the homes where these pre-connections have been established. Everything is still on track for bringing customers on board toward the end of June, 2019.|
|Ponca City Broadband is making progress in connecting our two backhaul circuits. This is what actually connects the new Utility service to the internet … and we’re using two. If one fails, the other automatically takes over. Rain this week impacted construction efforts. Construction didn’t stop, but was slowed down a little (especially during the hard down-pours). The hardware vendor for in-home electronics confirmed their shipments are on the way to Ponca City; they will be in town within the next couple of weeks to install and test the electronics at the Central Office.|
|Klaasmeyer Construction began installing service drops to the homes in Phase 1 who pre-signed up for the utility service. Fiber optic cable has been extended to these homes to a demarcation point near the electric meter. From that demarcation point in-home installation will begin. Estimated time for in-home installations is still projected to be mid-June, 2019. Ponca City Broadband completed a competitive bid document and published it this week, seeking professional contractor companies assistance with additional service drops and in-home installation tasks. The close date for that bid is 3:00 PM, May 23, 2019. Ponca City Broadband will open those bids and make a recommendation to the PCUA Board of Trustees at a regularly scheduled meeting in May, 2019.|
Ponca City Broadband staff reached temporary agreements with two business partners: one for network support, the other for customer helpdesk support. The temporary agreements provides time to fully understand what is actually needed in these areas so that a comprehensive bid specification can be developed for a future competitive bid process.
Ponca City Broadband and Ponca City Utility Billing have been working to finalize the customer guidelines, utility service agreement, acceptable use policies and a list of frequently asked questions. Customers who have pre-signed up for the new utility service were contacted by Klaasmeyer Construction to make arrangements to access their property to begin the initial installation process.
Contruction of the main transport loop was completed this week. This part of the network provides the communication path between the Central Office and the neighborhoods to be serviced. Klaasmeyer Contruction also began hanging the fiber optic cable into specific neighborhoods this week, which will be used to connect customer homes to the new network.
Ponca City Broadband began the research and due-diligence process for identifying potential business partners for the new Utility Service and obtaining price quotes from those potential partners for the services they will provide.
Construction in the Phase 1 area of town continues to progress. The Central Office and Network Operations Center were established this week and Ponca City selected the equipment vendor to provide the electronic components needed to run the system.
Klaasmeyer Construction arrived in town and began construction of the major, outside plant portion of the new Utility Service. Construction efforts will continue until Phase 1 is completely built out. The estimated timeframe for completing this work is Jun 12, 2019.