The Anacortes Fiber Department hit a new milestone this month: over 200 paying customers in service.

The total number of in-service customers now sits at 209 for June, an increase from the nine in service in March of this year. Total revenue is $13,596, and Administrative Services Director Emily Schuh said the take rate for the service in the three pilot areas is increasing as the team moves toward expansion.

“We couldn’t do it without our installation crew,” Schuh said at a virtual City Council meeting Monday. “We’re very appreciative of the customer service all our staff provide to make it a really accessible service.”

The installation crew follows the COVID-19 safety guidelines for construction when working at customers’ residences and continues to offer no-contact installations where customers can be walked through the process themselves if they are not comfortable with having the crew enter their homes.

Aerial expansion work to connect lines to the areas abutting the three pilot areas (Old Town, M Avenue and the central business district) is expected to begin in late July, Schuh said. The department is working with Island Hospital to provide dark fiber links for three facilities with a 31-month initial lease.

Looking ahead and exploring lower cost options for future expansion, the department expects to connect much of the remaining parts of town with underground construction, Schuh said.

“We were pleasantly pleased that there was a lot of area that while it will be underground, it will not be boring through rock to bring people to service,” Schuh said.

Council member Matt Miller said it was important for the City Council to know how much money it is willing to offer the department as it moves forward in light of financial constraints from the pandemic.

“As we’re getting these monthly reports, we need to have in the back of our minds a real target for success,” Miller said. “I think we can get there.”

To pay back the loan taken out to cover initial expenses, Miller said the city needs about 1,500 customers to begin making payments.

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