Fiber-optic internet service installations are gaining steam in Anacortes after several months of delays, Municipal Fiber Manager Jim Lemberg reported at Monday’s City Council meeting.
The rollout has faced a series of setbacks over the past several months due to challenges in finding contractors and waiting on materials to arrive.
As of Monday, Lemberg reported the city had nine customers with business-class internet service. Those nine customers bring in a monthly revenue of $1,171, and there are more customers whose installation work has begun.
“Admittedly these numbers appear to be fairly small, but as we move forward we’ll see that trend upward,” Lemberg said. “We’re still on the learning curve of all of this.”
Part of the learning curve stems from the council’s decision to use city staff for installation work with help from the Public Works Department rather than hire contractors. A previous search for qualified contractors proved difficult.
As for pre-orders, about 10% of Anacortes residents have signed up for internet service, which is about 20% shy of the target minimum take rate of the available customer base, which includes all of Anacortes and not just the first three pilot areas of town. Within the pilot areas, the take rates of sign-ups within the potential customer base are 21% for the Central Business District; 24% for Old Town; and 17% for the M Avenue area.
City fiber staff members have also communicated with the Port of Anacortes to service the marina building, which Lemberg anticipates will happen this week. Installing service to the marina opens the door to providing service to an estimated eight or nine other potential customers in the building.
The fiber department is also working to deploy service from the edge of the Water Treatment Plant in Mount Vernon to the edge of the city of Mount Vernon’s fiber optic network. That will improve connectivity between the two communities, Lemberg said.
Emergency services will be better connected, and it allows Anacortes to provide service to businesss that may have two offices, one in each area.
At the Feb. 18 council meeting, Lemberg will present a proposal to approve static IP addresses to customers in addition to internet service.
Static IP addresses are favorable for companies or businesses that host their own websites and servers, Lemberg said. For instance, the city has 11 static IP addresses currently, which it pays $55 per month for in addition to regular fees for internet service. Static IP addresses also allow users to reach computers remotely, which can come in handy for business owners who may need to connect with their office computer from off site.
“The easiest way to do that is through a static IP address,” Lemberg said.
Fiber staff plans to propose that City Council approve static IP address service for a monthly cost of $9 for one usable IPv4 address and $20 for five usable IPv4 addresses on top of monthly charges.
“I think we’ve turned the corner,” Mayor Gere said. “We’re starting to figure out what we’re doing, and businesses are pretty excited about what’s happening downtown.”