An eight-year effort to better connect Door County through fiber optic cable wrapped up last week as Nsight celebrated the completion of the 198-mile project. Representatives from Nsight, the Door County Economic Development Corporation (DCEDC) and local hospitals, businesses and schools met in Sturgeon Bay’s Glas Coffeehouse, a subsidiary of Nsight, to celebrate.
“One of the things that Door County residents want was to make sure that people who were interested in coming here had the connectivity they wanted and the speeds that allow for business to come to the community,” said Pat Riordan, president and CEO of Nsight.
“A lot of what makes Door County so attractive to folks… is what makes it so hard to do telecommunications infrastructure here, so thank you for not giving up and working with us,” said Caleb Frostman, DCEDC executive director. “We want to encourage folks to feel comfortable staying an extra day so they can telecommute and this will help us do that. This is undoubtedly a quality of life improvement for our residents and visitors.
Nsight executives said the unique topography and rare ecology of the region made the project challenging, but crews worked to accommodate the most sensitive areas.
Chief Technical Officer Lee Thibaudeau said the organization has never gone to such lengths to protect the area’s natural resources, speaking as if he just finished a course on ecology.
“The Hine’s emerald dragonfly, the largest breeding population in the world is here in Door County,” Thibaudeau said. “They have a tendency, I understand, to build a habitat in the limestone fissures. When we’re drilling through rock and cutting rock you have to be very respectful of that. So people would actually mark where they found those nests and we would work around them.”
Paige Funkhouser, economic development manager with the DCEDC, estimates the project will have more than a $1.2 million economic impact.
“We learned in a 2017 survey, that part-time residents would extend their stay in Door County by 12 days a year if broadband internet became widely available in the region,” Funkhouser said in a press release.
“The project was built with 96 fiber strands from start to finish so capacity through the county will be virtually unlimited,” Thibaudeau said.
The cable zigzags from east to west as it winds up the peninsula, connecting schools, emergency services, cell towers, technical college buildings and more. By connecting to Cellcom’s cell sites, another subsidiary of Nsight, the business expects significantly increased cell service and smartphone data capacity.