City Fiber Expansion

Emily Schuh talks about the city’s fiber expansion during a City Council meeting May 17.

Though the city’s fiber team is working on time-consuming underground installations, it hopes to double the number of potential customers by year’s end.

Access Fiber Internet Team Director Emily Schuh reported to the council that there are now 720 customers and $47,670 in monthly revenue, up by 22 customers and $1,247 from the last report in April.

But growth of the customer base has slowed, partly because the city fiber installation is working underground, which means rollout will be slower, Schuh said.

The team can complete two underground installations per day, and the city is looking at the possibility of adding a second team to increase their rate.

Last May, there were 138 customers and $9,211 in monthly revenue.

“We are doing everything we can to get our operating cashflow to break even by increasing the orders we have in service,” Schuh said.

As the team works to install more customers in the current service area, the city also plans to have completed the area west of Anacopper Mine Road, which includes the Skyline area, by the end of the year, which would effectively double the service area and open up access to 2,375 premises.

However, actually installing customers to those fiber lines will go into 2022. The city has 500 orders waiting in that area already.

In 2022, the city will backfill areas east of A Avenue, reaching 1,815 more premises. This will be funded in part through an Economic Development Adminstration grant of $2.25 million.

In 2023, fiber development is expected to reach the area between Anacopper Mine Road and A Avenue. By then, the city could have just over 7,300 customers.

The city is funding the installation with a line of credit through Savibank, but there could also be funding from the American Recovery Plan Act for fiber development, Schuh said.

There are a few special buildings the Fiber Internet Team is looking at, including providing service to the Anacortes Senior Activity Center and Western Washington University’s Shannon Point Marine Center. It is also looking at dark fiber leases with Rock Island Communications within Anacortes and to Mount Vernon and with WAVE from Anacortes to the Water Treatment Plant.

Schuh said the team is aware that some residents have believed they were speaking to city representatives about signing up for fiber internet, when in fact they were talking to private competitors. The city has asked for competitors to clear in their marketing.

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I cover health, environment, business and more at the Anacortes American. Feel free to send me tips at qinghram [at] goanacortes.com.

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