WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) --     westbrook last Friday morning, Terry Nelson and  Ken Knuth of Woodstock Communications visited with the city council to explain how they will use the grant money to increase  the internet speed in the Westbrook area.

    Bob Knuth explained the company received grant funding of $412,391 from the State of Minnesota, and the Woodstock Telephone Co. matched that with their own contribution of $504,033.

    The project will  serve 368 unserved households and 29 businesses.  

    Nelson said the new system will offer internet speeds of up to one  gigabit. The speeds offered will be a huge boost from the current speeds of 10-15 megabits per second. He also says it will offer families with three or more people download speeds that would  allow downloading movies in less than a minute with the one  gigabit speed they will offer.

    They told the council they expect to start putting in the network in late spring possibly in May, and hope to be hooking up customers by the following October.

    Finley Engineering of Slayton will be doing the design of the system and bidding of contracts with construction companies.

    The two men assured the council they will hire only reputable contractors for the project. They are also hoping to give rural customers wireless broad band for customers up to about seven miles. They said wireless is not always the answer because of geographic features that limit the signal and can cause problems.

    Municipal utilities superintendent Dan Joel asked if they planned on offering television on the system. They said they would look at it, and the box that is put on the houses for internet will readily accept the TV signal. However they said there is really not much money to be made in television for small communities. Joel agreed with them.

    Nelson said they have three techs on staff with 24/7 tech support. When asked about customer  service if people are having problems, Nelson says they try to have same day service for system issues that require a technician visit.

    They told the council they are still waiting  to hear from the state to know the rules for using the grant. Nelson said right now you know as much as we do about that.