Chanhassen will be the next city in Minnesota to have access to MetroNet fiber optic internet, TV and phone. The Chanhassen City Council approved a franchise agreement with MetroNet at a meeting in August.
MetroNet was established in 2004. Today, the company provides its fiber optic connection to over 100 communities in 13 states. The first city to work with MetroNet in Minnesota was Rochester. The company typically looks for communities that it deems to be underserved in broadband capabilities, said Kathy Scheller, the director of government relations for MetroNet.
“We began to look elsewhere within our footprint to see communities that perhaps were underserved where we can make an impact,” Scheller said.
MetroNet offers a direct fiber optic connection to customers’ homes. The only devices that are connected to the company’s fiber are the customers’, Scheller said. Customers don’t share any bandwidth with their neighbors like they would with cable. Customers can utilize internet, television and phone.
Residents of Chanhassen will see a major MetroNet presence in the community this spring. However, residents may have already seen the company in the community because it is doing pre-construction work as it continues to analyze the community, Scheller said.
It will take MetroNet around two years to completely build the fiber optic system in Chanhassen, but there is good news. The entire community doesn’t have to wait that long to start using its services. Once MetroNet gets particular areas connected to the system, residents can start to utilize the services, Scheller said.
When MetroNet comes into a community, it looks to achieve at least 40% penetration in 14 months, Scheller added.
“We really come in and people immediately come to our services because they know the quality and the capability that these services have,” she said.
Building a fiber optic system in Chanhassen will be a multimillion dollar investment for MetroNet. The company goes through an extensive process because it is investing in the city, Scheller said. Based on the company’s business model, they believe MetroNet will achieve the penetration needed to be successful, she added.
“We believe the impact that we’re going to make to residents and businesses alike will be a game-changer for the community,” Scheller said.
Bringing MetroNet into the community could help the future of Chanhassen. The economic development impact of having fiber optics in a community is very important, Scheller said. A fiber optics system not only impacts current residents and businesses, often companies are looking to go into communities that have access to fast internet speeds. Fiber optics allow unparalleled speeds, she said.
During the pandemic, people quickly learned how important it is to have multiple devices connected to the internet. Children were being home schooled and people were working from home. Fiber optics have come to the forefront and a lot of communities are realizing its importance, Scheller said.
“We always are very excited when we are able to achieve an agreement with a city like Chanhassen,” Scheller said. “We’re going to come in and bring world class fiber optic infrastructure into the community and we’re excited for that.”
It was important to bring MetroNet into the community because there are portions of the city that are not currently served by Mediacom, said City Manager Laurie Hokkanen.
As consumers, people are very used to having choice. To date, Chanhassen and many other communities had really only one internet provider. It’s great for residents to have two options, Hokkanen added.
MetroNet was the first capable and interested provider that approached Chanhassen to work together, according to Hokkanen. The city typically heard that because it was already served by Mediacom, that it wouldn’t be interesting for other providers to come in because they wouldn’t capture enough market share, she added.
According to Mayor Elise Ryan, improved internet service options has been a frequently requested action from the council. The council made it a priority and are happy to add MetroNet to its mix of internet service providers.
“We are pleased to be able to add another option for internet and cable service,” Ryan said. “We do believe that adding competition to the market is important as we hope it elevates all service in this area.”
Where do we go from here?
Posed to sixth- through 12th-graders who live or go to school in the county, teenagers answered this mid-pandemic question for this year’s Carver County Library’s Teen Six-Word Story Contest.
The first annual October competition, inspired by writer Ernest Hemingway, amassed 182 entries. Last year’s theme was “2020 In Six Words.”
“The legend is somebody challenged Ernest Hemingway to write a sad story in six words, and his story was: For sale: baby shoes, never worn,” says Ingrid Rimmereide, associate youth services librarian at the Chanhassen Library.
The adolescent writers blew Rimmereide away with their talent again this year.
“It’s amazing the brilliance that these kids can put together in six words,” she says.
Take Lola Barton, who won the top 10th-grade prize of 18 entries. She channeled her tough year into her story. Barton, who is homeschooled in Mayer, recently moved from Cologne with her family during the pandemic.
The trickiest part was fitting that all into half a dozen words.
“Cuz I wanted to get it to be how it felt and explain it, but in only six words that’s kind of hard,” Lola says. “I kind of wrote it in the way I would like to be a friend and how I would like others to be friends towards me.”
After about 15 minutes, her story felt right: “Choose compassion, kindness, joy and authenticity.”
“I just hope that from my poem, people are encouraged to think more about others and choose to enjoy the days that they are in instead of rushing about, worrying about things,” Lola says.
Some day, Lola says she might like to write a book. But for now, she’ll use her $50 Barnes & Noble prize gift card to stock up on other authors’ work.
This year’s library contest’s ninth-grade winner is Max Vivas, who goes to Chanhassen High School.
A teacher mentioned the contest in class and he settled on a story in a handful of minutes: “Much time lost, many things gained.”
As for losses, Max says he missed a lot of school material (looking at you, Algebra 1) and all the things that would’ve come with a normal school year. But it wasn’t all bad.
The second-youngest of four children, Max’s whole family was home: His dad had a zero-minute work commute and his eldest siblings returned from college to ride out the pandemic in Chanhassen.
“We got much more family time,” Max says. “Every lunch time, my mom would always say, like, ‘It’s so nice for all of us to be together.’”
Max says he’ll see where his writing takes him, potentially taking after his dad, who has won international writing and poetry contests, he says. In the shorter-term, Max plans to “definitely” join the speech team next year.
Rimmereide says she’s proud of the teamwork with colleague Branch Manager Patrick Jones, who she says worked mostly with teenagers before coming to Carver County.
On top of that, it can be difficult to get teenagers to participate in library programs, she says, making the often-quick six-word contest even more of a favorite. But speedy doesn’t equate to easy.
“It’s not like a whole essay, but to encapsulate a story or a thought or a feeling in six words requires some thought and good use of vocabulary words,” says Jodi Edstrom, Chaska Library branch manager. “Some of (the entries) were just brilliant. It gives me hope for the future. These kids are thoughtful and articulate and very creative.”
Though maybe not quite as well-known just yet, these teenagers are closer to reaching Hemingway’s literary legacy — six words closer, to be exact.