Fiber optics, improved internet speeds coming to Greenbush

Workers from Ripley’s Inc., contracted out by Wiktel for its fiber optic project in Greenbush, use this blue hose as a vacuum to suck up dirt so they locate other existing utilities, such as power lines, cable TV lines, or telephone lines, on September 28. This prevents Ripley’s from impacting current services while it is putting in the fiber optics. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

Workers from Ripley’s Inc., contracted out by Wiktel for its fiber optic project in Greenbush, use this blue hose as a vacuum to suck up dirt so they locate other existing utilities, such as power lines, cable TV lines, or telephone lines, on September 28. This prevents Ripley’s from impacting current services while it is putting in the fiber optics. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

Beginning in early to mid-August, Greenbush residents may have noticed some construction work going on, a vehicle with a large roll of orange tubing or a Wiktel truck driving around, or colored orange lines being painted on their grass. What is this all about?

As part of a four-phase construction project, Wikstrom Telephone Company (Wiktel) is continuing to install new fiber optic telephone cables to the homes and businesses in Greenbush. It is contracting out to Ripley’s Incorporated out of Erhard, Minn., to complete the actual construction. The result of this project will lead to improvements in both people’s phone and, more noticeably, internet service.

Wiktel began installing fiber for this “Greenbush City Project” on August 11. Wiktel’s Paul Hanson, one of the three on-site engineers for this project, said the hope was to have this entire project finished by the fall, but added how it didn’t appear this would happen. Wiktel’s plan is to continue construction until late October to early November— whenever the frost build-up makes it too difficult on people’s lawns and the construction equipment to continue with construction.

“We’re hoping for warm weather,” Hanson said.

He estimated this project to be completed by June 2021.

Wiktel began this project by designing and mapping it out, and deciding on cable sizes. From there, it worked on retaining easements and contacting homeowners, giving Wiktel the permission to work on homeowners’ properties and get the fiber up to their houses. From that point, Wiktel then lined up the construction work with Ripley’s Inc.

“We’ve worked with them (Ripley’s) for many decades,” Hanson said. “They do good work, they do good cleanup, and we’ve very much appreciated them as a company.”

Wiktel is now in its four-phases of construction. It began with phase one, the southwest portion of Greenbush. After completing this phase, it moved into phase two, the southeast portion of Greenbush. Hanson said Wiktel hoped to have this phase done by this week.

After this phase, the work will continue to phase three, the northwest portion of Greenbush.

“We’ll start in the northwest corner, finish that,” Hanson said, “and then I’m guessing, at the rate we’re going, the speed we’re going, we’ll finish that. And then we’ll be into phase four, when November hits and the frost hits.”

Phase four represents the northeast corner of Greenbush. Hanson said the hope is start phase four this year, but didn’t anticipate it being finished until next year.

Wiktel will have contracted “fiber splicers” come in to clean up, bond, and splice all the fibers that Ripley’s installed in Greenbush this year. This work will take place at each pedestal at the edge of the right-of-way and also at the outside of each house and business. Wiktel hopes to have this splicing for the fiber optic cables in phases one, two, and three done this winter.

“You’re sitting in a tent with a heater,” Hanson said about this splicing work. “It kind of looks like your ice fishing out there.”

As Wiktel continues to install these fiber optic lines in an effort to improve customer’s phone and internet service, Hanson welcomed the public to ask Wiktel questions about the Greenbush project.

“If anybody’s in town and have questions, they should definitely feel free to stop our Wiktel trucks or come talk to us,” Hanson said. “We’re more than happy to work with them, help them out if they have any concerns, anything like that. We are there to serve them and basically upgrade the whole infrastructure, so they can have better communications.”

To see the complete story, read the September 30 issue of The Tribune in print or online.

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