Longmont will review business plan for fiber-optic service this spring
LONGMONT, Feb 08, 2013 (Daily Times-Call - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
A business plan for Longmont's fiber-optic loop that offers cheaper home Internet rates will be in front of the City Council by mid-April, city telecom manager Vince Jordan said Thursday night.
If approved, Jordan said, the residential rates for the high-speed broadband service would be 10 to 15 percent below existing Internet service providers. That's once a location can be hooked up, which could come soonest for those near the Southmoor Park area in southern Longmont, or those near a school, since the St. Vrain Valley School District is already on the system.
"If you're close to a school, you're close to fiber in this town," said Jordan, following a talk at the Longmont Museum that compared the rollout of Longmont's electric service in 1912 to the start of its fiber service now.
Longmont's system currently has 55 miles of cable plant, including an 18-mile loop first built in the 1990s. The city regained the right to offer service on the fiber-optic system in 2011, after a local election cast off state restrictions.
About 1,280 businesses are within 500 feet of the fiber. That's an important point, Jordan said, since the system's economic development potential likely will be the biggest factor driving its expansion.
About 1,100 homes, mostly in southern Longmont, already have the apparatus needed for a hookup, and a number of "old town" homes could be near the front of the line, too, Jordan said.
"Through old town, we have quite a bit of aerial fiber," he said.
That said, it's still going to take time. If the whole rollout had to be funded through rates alone, Jordan said -- hooking up a few homes and businesses and then using their rates to pay for the next connections -- it would take 50 years to get the whole city on board. The business plan being prepared by Longmont Power and Communications will suggest ways to shorten that. LPC has said that if money were no object, the whole city could be
connected in two years.
And while the monthly rates may be low, there's still the cost to have a connection built to a home or business -- a "last mile" cost that could be as cheap as $500 or as expensive as $15,000, depending on the location and circumstances.
Even the worst case isn't deterring some folks, Jordan said.
"I have a number of residents who have said 'If it's under 10 grand, do it; I want the speed,'" he said.
One man in the museum audience wanted to know if the city could recruit business by offering to spread that front-end cost out for a company over several years. That's up to the City Council, LPC executive director Tom Roiniotis said, but probably.
"It seems to me that ought to be a major part of whatever economic development package we put together," the man said. "This is a phenomenal asset."
Scott Rochat can be reached at 303-684-5220 or email@example.com.
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