0923 city internet

The City of Anacortes’ internet utility is growing, and it is now easier for residents with lower income to obtain the service.

Access Anacortes Fiber Internet has 316 customers, up from nine in March, with $21,809 in monthly revenue, department director Emily Schuh told the City Council on Monday.

Citywide, there have been 1,464 signups for service.

In the Commercial Business District, the city has achieved a 42% market share with 107 of the potential 255 customers signed up for city internet services, Schuh said. In Old Town, the percentage is 37.5%; on M Avenue, the percentage is 33.1%.

Between 55% and 57% of customers have chosen 100 mbps service while the remainder have chosen 1 gig speed service.

“The percentage of orders in service continues to grow as we become able to do underground installs as well as aerial installs,” Schuh said.

The city is installing fiber cable throughout the city in two ways: aerial on existing utility poles and buried conduit.

Aerial construction underway in six areas of the city is expected to be finished by the end of 2020, Schuh said.

As soon as that infrastructure is in place, “we will follow up with connections to the homes and businesses,” she said. “In 2021 we will be expanding from A Avenue east following the city limits. In 2022-23, we will be constructing (in) the west end of the city.”

The City Council on Monday made it easier for qualifying low-income households to subscribe to Access Anacortes Internet Fiber.

The council approved a 20% reduction in residential internet service; a similar reduction is available to low-income households for other utility services — water, sewer, stormwater, and refuse collection.

“Our message with this entire fiber service is that it is an essential service for residents, almost as much as garbage and sewer service is now,” City Councilman Ryan Walters said. “Especially during this pandemic, people need good reliable fiber service so that each of their four children can be on Zoom calls all at the same time. … It’s not going to affect our revenue in any substantial way, and it’s also the right thing to do.”

All other council members concurred, unanimously voting to extend the discounted utility rate to the internet utility.

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