Fiber Optic Internet in Anacortes
Can you think of a day in the last week that you didn’t use the Internet at least once? Oh, there was that one day. No wait. Hmmmm. Nope. Impossible, isn’t it? You use the Internet constantly, without even thinking twice. Whether it’s pulling out your phone to look up an address to a business, mapping directions, streaming a video on your home computer or listening to a podcast, you use the Internet. And, that Internet usage comes at a price. Sadly, it’s usually a pretty high price. The City of Anacortes is trying to change that.
Please complete the online survey and encourage your staff and friends to complete it as well. The survey is available at https://cityofanacortes.servicezones.net . This is the first step in helping us to better understand the community’s interest in a city owned broadband system. The City is installing fiber optic links as part of our water and wastewater telemetry system. We are now exploring if the remaining fiber optic capacity could serve as a backbone for a fiber network in our community.
To better understand the needs of the community in deploying a fiber optic broadband utility, the City of Anacortes has purchased and implemented the COS Service Zones™ system as a survey tool to solicit feedback and organize data from the community for possible fiber network expansion. This system will allow the public to express satisfaction with current services offered in the area, voice their opinions on the proposed network project, and request expansion of the fiber network into specific neighborhoods. If the demand is great enough and the city moves forward with the network expansion, the system will also allow residents to track plans for construction.
Currently, Anacortes residents have the choice between Frontier, Comcast / Xfinity, or Wave Cable as their Internet providers. These are Telecom DSL service, and in the case of Wave, cable Internet service. This technology is reaching its peak, and though there are small improvements that can happen, cable and DSL service will be outdated in several years. When Mayor Laurie Gere conducted her listening tour, shortly after taking office as mayor, she heard residents talk about the need for affordable Internet connection. In fact, it was among the top five issues all citizens wanted to discuss. This being the state of affairs, she laid out the issues with the City Council, and City staff have being researching affordable Internet connection options ever since.
New Internet Service
We did our homework. We investigated using a private provider, and we contacted current Internet providers about this project, but neither of these options were cost effective.
“We came to the conclusion that if we wanted to have better, faster, Internet service, we were going to have to do it ourselves,” explained Fred Buckenmeyer, Director of Anacortes Public Works.
We think we can provide better, less expensive service than the current providers.
What are Fiber Optics?
So what are fiber optics? They are incredibly thin fibers that permit communication and transmission of information over longer distances at a higher bandwidth. What does that mean in layman’s terms? Data - what you look up or stream on the internet - will get to you faster for less. Anacortes uses a radio based telemetry system to communicate between water and sewer pump stations, but it’s a slow and unreliable telemetry system. What we propose to do is construct an fiber optic link between the sewer pump stations and water stations and reservoirs. In the future this link would allow us to reach homes and business with fiber optics. The way we’ll do that is by partnering with a non-profit corporation called NOA Net to bring Internet over the fiber optic lines and make them useable for residents. Then, Internet portals in homes and businesses will be as easy to install as an electricity outlet.
The goal is to have some fiber optics lines installed in 2017 with the remainder finished in 2018. It will take some time, because this is the first time Public Works is attempting this type of project. There is a learning curve involved. However, we are confident that we have the tools and partnerships in place to be successful.
Wow! Can you imagine? Some day in the near future fiber optic Internet connection will be as reliable as turning on your water. Houses built in the next 10 years will have Internet hook-ups much like water or electricity. Internet connection will be affordable and accessible to all. Imagine the possibilities of having citywide, affordable Internet access - shopping, commerce, technology, communication. Now this is something to get excited about. If you’re excited, or have questions about this project, you can always get in contact with us at the Public Works Department by calling 360.293.1919 or by email.