Residents of Jamestown could have another option for cable TV and internet services later next summer. Midcontinent Communications, also known as Midco, is in negotiations with the Jamestown City Council for a franchise agreement to provide those services.
The Jamestown Finance and Legal Committee heard a presentation from Justin Forde, senior director of government relations, at its Tuesday meeting. The application for the franchise agreement was referred to the city's staff and attornies attorneys for further review and possible changes.
"Jamestown is a great growing community," Forde said in an interview prior to the meeting. "It is one of the largest cities in North Dakota where we don't have a presence."
Project plans call for a $15 million investment in Jamestown.
Midco will compete with Dakota Central and Cable Services Inc., in the Jamestown market. Cable Services began broadband operations in Jamestown in 1996 while Dakota Central built its current network in Jamestown in 2003 and 2004.
"Broadband is more important now than ever," Forde said. "The community will have options and choices."
Midco will also offer a cable TV service including its own regional sports channel.
"Midco Sports is one of our great stations," Forde said. "It has become popular for its college and high school sports from around the region."
Forde said Midco has already started engineering and design work for the project.
"Construction could start as soon as the weather allows in the spring," he said. "Realistically, operations in some parts of Jamestown late in the year."
Midco would concentrate construction efforts in one neighborhood or area of Jamestown at a time and bring that area online before moving to the next neighborhood. Depending on weather and other factors, completion of construction in all parts of Jamestown may be delayed to 2023, Forde said.
Jamestown Mayor Dwaine Heinrich said the city would work with Midco to review and adjust the city's standard franchise agreement to meet the situation.
Sarah Hellekson, city administrator, said the franchise agreement sets out the parameters Midco must operate under in Jamestown.
"The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) defines what can be included," she said. "It makes sure they provide the services and requires they have liability insurance."
The franchise agreement also authorizes Midco to use city streets, alleys and other public property for service lines and other infrastructure necessary for the project.
While the franchise is still under negotiation, Midco plans on starting survey work as early as August in Jamestown.
"We will have about a half dozen employees to start at a technical operations center," Forde said. "As the customer numbers grow, so will the numbers of employees."