Humboldt ‘buys-in’ to broadband

Humboldt pledges $2,000 to KwiKom broadband expansion efforts.



February 14, 2024 - 3:47 PM

HUMBOLDT — The city of Humboldt pledged $2,000 to KwiKom Communications in return for its commitment to expand the city’s fiber optic internet at no additional cost to the north section of town.

The sweetheart deal is contingent on KwiKom securing a $1.8 million Kansas Broadband Acceleration grant that would enable the Iola-based company to install a fiber optic system that includes the rural countryside between Humboldt and Iola.

The grant is a 50/50 match between the state and KwiKom, said John Terry, communications director for KwiKom.

Community buy-in not only helps offset KwiKom’s share of the project but also its chances in securing the grant, Terry said.

“It shows the community thinks this is a good project.”

Though he did not suggest an amount, Terry suggested a “token buy-in” is customary. At the conclusion of the presentation Council member Cindy Hollinsworth suggested the $2,000 amount, to which all Council members present agreed.

Terry said the purpose of the grant “is to basically encourage private companies to invest in building fiber optics in areas where it’s pretty expensive to build otherwise” such as rural areas. 

In return for Humboldt’s cooperation, Terry said KwiKom “would be willing to build out your industrial park with fiber optic internet.” The industrial park lies within Humboldt city limits.

That appealed to Council members. “It would make the business park more marketable as well as benefit those on the north side of town,” said Paul Cloutier.

The possibility of increasing downtown Humboldt’s bandwidth was also discussed. KwiKom leases the top of a downtown water tower for a communications system tower. 

“There have been discussions on how we can increase the bandwidth at our city parks to improve surveillance there,” as well as boost public Wi-Fi, said City Administrator Cole Herder. 

Currently AT&T provides fiber optic in Humboldt, “but as far as I know, it has no plans to extend that outside of the few locations that exist,” said Terry. 

Terry said the company has been successful securing grants “in every round we’ve applied for. The state trusts our ability to do these projects and do what we say we’re going to do in the timeframe.”

KwiKom is facing a March 11 deadline for the grant application, Terry said.

HOPING TO find an answer as to why many Humboldt households are not receiving their utility bills in a timely fashion, the city will begin sending the statements in addressed envelopes, Herder said.