MARBLETON – Sublette County – and Marbleton in particular – might be the focus to experiment with new wireless technology to provide a different kind of rural broadband.
Overline Network executives spoke via Zoom to the Marbleton Town Council at its June 13 meeting about its proposal to “use blockchain incentives to drive 5G deployment.”
For one, it would “pay” users who set up Overline’s modems and small cells to overlap in “those areas that need it most,” said the proposal submitted to Marbleton.
The venture-funded company plans – or hopes – to partner with Sublette County and share about $7 million in startup costs to provide incentives to users “at a fraction of the cost of traditional wireless networks,” the proposal says.
“Our fresh approach using blockchain-based incentives and custom hardware is a game changer,” it says. “Because Wyoming is the national leader in promoting blockchain-based technology, it is the perfect place to deploy our network and we could not be more excited.”
Overline has both a blockchain component and a telecom component.
And Sublette County, along with Marbleton, Big Piney and Pinedale, is the perfect place for Overline to test its system, according to CEO Patrick McConlogue, because it is a challenging rural environment.
“This is a very unique situation for all of us,” he said. “We are right at the tip of demonstrating this technology for the state.”
Overline wants to go test its system in a “very difficult” place and the cold is one challenge here as well as the highly rural and small-town populations.
“We want to redefine rural Internet in Wyoming,” he said.
For that to work, a lot of people need to sign up to the network of small cells about the size of a desklamp. Each installer would get paid with cryptocurrency based on how much use the cell receives, as more small cells are deployed to cover the more rural areas.
“It does better if everybody works together, if you and more people sign up,” McConlogue said.
Mayor Jim Robinson said: “You’re asking us for a monetary match on this proposal. What does this match bring Marbleton? Infrastructure? Revenues?”
The first step would be a letter of intent that lists exactly which households are needed to be part of the project, McConlogue said. Earnings would be paid from the first time the network was turned on, “rewarding individuals for participating.”
The project would include infrastructure, 45 “boxes” for overlapping coverage, education and marketing, he said.
Robinson and councilmembers BJ Meador, Roger McMannis, BJ Meador and Karen Wenz had more questions for the team on Zoom. Sam Bixler asked about the payment system.
Town attorney Thayne Peterson said he would review Overline’s letter of intent against Wyoming’s municipal investment policy rules – “My questions are legal, not technical.”
Overline Network communications and proposal did not include any dollar amounts, according to town clerk Shannon McCormick.
In other Marbleton news:
The council also had a public hearing for and approved second reading of Ordinance 2022-02, Temporary & Transitory Business Licenses proposing a $75 fee.