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A Better Wireless changes plan to use New York Mills city water tower

Amid claims by a competitor of signal interference, A Better Wireless owner Mitch Koep has changed his plans to install equipment on the New York Mills city water tower.

In an attempt to “avoid some of the drama” that he says has been coming his way from the owners of Lakes Area Internet, he’s come up with an alternative plan.

Instead of using the city’s water tower, which Lakes Area Internet already uses for its equipment, Keop will be moving his equipment to a tower further west of town, and placing it up higher so the signal will still extend out to reach all the areas that would have been reached under his original plan -- including most of Perham.

This alternate solution is more expensive for Keop, but he told New York Mills city councilors at a meeting last week that it’s also more workable, as it’s a way around the “he said, she said” allegations coming from Lakes Area Internet.

In a letter that Keop shared with councilors last week, Lakes Area Internet claims he has encroached on their tower locations and operated his own equipment frequencies “with indisputable carelessness.”

The letter goes on to request that Keop remove his operating frequency “to a more optimal operating distance to ensure a successful future for both ABW and Lakes.”

Keop, however, maintains that he has not experienced any issues with interference, and that he is merely trying to offer people better Internet at higher speeds. Proving the interference issue, however, would take a several thousand dollar study, which makes moving his equipment to a different location a more viable and immediate option.

Koep said he has tried to contact Lakes Area Internet many times, in hopes of working cooperatively, but with no luck. He said the letter he shared last week was a response to an attempt he made in January to contact the company.

City councilors seemed supportive of Keop and his decision.

“You definitely have a product that people rely on, and that…we are pleased with,” said Mayor Julie Gerber. “We’d like to keep you here.”

The new equipment for A Better Wireless was set to arrive this week, and Koep said it should be installed, live and ready for customers within the next two to three weeks.

In other business, the city council:

-Swore in new councilor Josh Hoaby.

-Heard a report from Jamie Robertson, executive director of the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center, who said the new roof is about to be put on the Creamery building. Councilors also supported the idea of selling wine and beer at a café inside the building.

-Heard a report from Police Chief Jim Van Schaick. He said the department is continuing its search for a new squad car; they’re now thinking that a new car may be a better deal than buying something used. He expects to have a couple of proposals ready for the council by its next meeting. He also reported that a new DARE program will start at the school around March 22.

Marie Johnson

Marie Johnson joined the Perham Focus more than five years ago, and has since worn many hats as writer, editor and page designer. She lives in rural Frazee with her husband, Dan, their one-year-old son, Simon, and their yellow lab, Louisa. 

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