Fiber optic internet coming to Harpers Ferry through AcenTek

Be aware of work along the highway ... Working immediately beside the highway comes with some challenges as part of the AcenTek fiber build between Lansing and Harpers Ferry. Traffic is urged to take caution when entering these areas of construction. Submitted image.

Running conduit under the gravel road ... A boring machine places conduit under the gravel road where Dry Ridge Drive meets the Lansing Harpers Road highway. AcenTek is working on the fiber optic project between Lansing and Harpers Ferry, with a completion date anticipated by the end of this current year. Submitted image.

Project in progress ... Large spools of tubing, equipment and caution signs mark the areas where work is being done on the Harpers Ferry fiber project. AcenTek is working on completing the fiber build with completion anticipated by the end of this year. Submitted image.

Anyone who has traveled between Lansing and Harpers Ferry lately may have noticed a construction project in process. AcenTek, the Internet, Voice and Video provider, is bringing the option of fiber internet to over 750 addresses in the Harpers Ferry area. Phase 2 of AcenTek’s fiber project began in May, with an expected completion date of December 1 of this year.

Central Cable vehicles are easily spotted south of Lansing where the project work began. Central Cable is the contractor for AcenTek. Large spools of orange tubing, called conduit, can be seen in various spots where work is being done. The conduit is what holds and protects the fiber strands, once inserted.

Mainline construction is the first step of a fiber build. Construction signs and cones are set out to warn drivers of this construction work, as it often takes place right next to primary roadways. Motorists are asked to use caution when approaching these work areas.

Crews use various equipment, such as trenching and boring machines, to complete their work. A boring machine is a horizontal drill, used to create underground tunnels that the conduit will be inserted in.

After the mainline construction is complete, a “drop” crew follows. A drop is simply the fiber connection made between the individual home/business to the mainline. All property owners in the build area are contacted by AcenTek to ask permission to put a drop to their location.

Every property owner is encouraged to take a drop, even if they think they don’t need it. There is no cost to have the drop put in during the construction stage and the owner is under no obligation to subscribe to AcenTek services if they agree to a drop. Having a drop at their property is a selling point should the owner choose to sell their property in the future. Having a fiber drop also gives the owner (or future owner) options for satisfying their future technology needs.

Once the drops are in place, the fiber optics are inserted into the conduit. Next, the fiber is spliced and tested. This step is the most time-consuming part of the process. Once complete, customers who have AcenTek services will be contacted, and their services will be switched from copper to fiber-fed.

Some of the first customers in the Harpers Ferry fiber build may begin having their services converted as early as July.

CNS (Cooperative Network Services) vehicles can also be spotted around the project area. They are the engineering team hired by AcenTek that helps plan and schedule each fiber project. Both Central Cable and CNS are important partners in the success of the fiber build for AcenTek.

The Harpers Ferry fiber project is possible, in part, due to a grant AcenTek received in 2021. AcenTek received a $12.1 million grant from the Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant Program. This grant was to help with roughly 50% of the cost for building fiber to several communities in Iowa. The grant included fiber builds for Clermont, Ossian, Fort Atkinson and Harpers Ferry.

The Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant was the first grant AcenTek has been awarded in Iowa. Chief Operating Officer (COO) Ethan Webinger commented, “While it is our goal to bring fiber to every customer we have, we can do this at a much faster pace because of these grants. Grants are an important tool for us. This helps us build our fiber network faster.”

Due to the requirements of this grant, AcenTek is able build fiber to a few select homes outside of its traditional service area. For the Harpers Ferry fiber project, this means that select homes in the area will now have options for who they choose as their internet provider.

AcenTek’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mike Osborne stated, “Many people living in rural communities do not have a choice for who their provider is. They must go with the only provider serving their area. I’m glad we can provide an additional provider option for select people in this area. With more and more people working remotely, their connection at home is just as vital as the one in a traditional brick-and-mortar business. We are happy to provide both the home and the business with the internet speeds they need. As we continue to build fiber to all our customers, it is very exciting to add Harpers Ferry to our list.”

AcenTek in anticipating it will complete this fiber build by the end of this year.