Thursday, February 2, 2017

Idaho Falls schedules meetings for discussion of fiber network expansion

The City of Idaho Falls is planning four informational meetings in February to foster a community-wide discussion about the future of the Idaho Falls Fiber Network.

The city’s dark fiber network was established in 2002 to upgrade the city’s internal communications capabilities while keeping costs low. It was expanded over the next five years, and in 2007 access to the network was granted to commercial service providers.

The network has expanded nearly every year since, providing connectivity to businesses on the philosophy that competitive Internet service rates will keep facilitate economic development. Today, 27 of the 30 commercially available pairs of dark fiber are under lease. Eight commercial internet service providers (ISPs) lease access to the network to provide broadband internet of 1 gigabit and upwards to 383 local businesses. In addition, 12 local businesses lease fiber directly from the city to provide network access to 76 locations.

In 2015, Idaho Falls Power enlisted a consultant to explore options for expansion of the network, including options for fiber to homes in the city.

The consultants, Finley Engineering and CCG Consulting, examined the cost of building fiber throughout the city based on a variety of scenarios and a range of options for potential business models for network expansion. They evaluated the city as a stand-alone service provider, public-private partnerships between the city and a new or existing ISP, and for an open access network similar to the current configuration but expanded to service residences.

At each meeting, Idaho Falls Power staff will provide information on the history of the fiber network, the options for potential network expansion, and results of a recently conducted survey of local customers. Each meeting will feature an informal, open house format and will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the following locations:

Thursday, Feb. 9, Compass Academy, 955 Garfield Street

Monday, Feb. 13, Taylorview Junior High School, 350 Castlerock Lane

Tuesday, Feb. 21, Idaho Falls High School, 601 S. Holmes Avenue

Wednesday, Feb. 22, Skyline High School, 1767 Blue Sky Drive