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County closer to fiber optics ring with $3.35-million grant

Improvements will bring voice mail and DSL to much of Polk County



POLK COUNTY -- Polk County is edging closer to technological improvements, thanks to a $3.35 million state grant. County residents will be able to get voice mail and high-speed Internet access by late this year or early next year, said Dallas City Manager Roger Jordan.

Communications company Qwest will install a fiber optic ring running between Salem, Dallas, Monmouth and Independence. The region currently uses fiber optic lines -- not a ring -- to connect to Salem. Severing those lines can shut off 911 service, said Dallas Parks and Recreation Director Al Knox.

"If they're cut, we're dead in the water," he said.

But with a ring, the message can still get through. "Anywhere the line is cut," Knox said, "you have the other way to get your communications through."

In addition to voice mail, local customers will be able to use digital subscriber line, or DSL, for the first time. The high-speed Internet connection runs on the same line as a telephone, thereby eliminating the need for a second line, Knox said.

"It's live all the time," he said. "You can do Internet and still receive phone calls."

That's because DSL uses a frequency so high that it doesn't cause interference, Knox said.

However, even DSL has its limits. Only users within three miles of a central office can get the service.

There will be central offices in Falls City, Dallas, and the Monmouth-Independence area.

While that won't cover all of rural Polk County, it should reach most of the county's users. A central office on Court St. "includes just about everyone in Dallas," Knox said, and almost to Rickreall.

A radius that size would cover much of the populated areas around Monmouth-Independence and Falls City as well.



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