The rollout of the Anacortes fiber internet service is moving steadily forward with continued plans for expansion throughout the city.

Just over 40 customers have been put in service since July, with 284 customers in service as of August and 19 IPv4 address customers for a combined total of $18,704 in monthly revenue. Of those 284 customers, 228 are residential and 56 are commercial.

The take rate in the three pilot areas are above or nearing the city’s goal of 35%, the goal being that 35% of potential customers sign up for the service in a given area. In the central business district, the take-rate percentage is 39.2%, in Old Town it’s 36.5% and along M Ave. 28.1%.

Remaining construction for the fiber internet lines in 2020 will pass 1,296 premises, and the city hopes to sign up at least 450 customers from those areas said Administrative Services Director Emily Schuh. As of now, 184 orders have been received for the area.

“There is a bit of a delay,” Schuh said. “We have all of our materials received, the contract is complete with Robinson Brothers, the hold up right now is the ‘make ready’ construction from Puget Sound Energy will not be able to start until Sept. 14.”

Until then, fiber staff will begin inside installation preparations to expedite hookups once the backbone work is complete.

The City of Anacortes is now connected via fiber lines to both Mount Vernon and Burlington, which will help improve communication across the county.

“Long term, we expect that (Skagit County) will be entering into an agreement with us to better support the public safety needs in our connectivity,” Schuh said.

The department is also working on special projects with the Samish Indian Nation and Island Hospital.

The Samish Indian Nation is helping with cost sharing to expedite service to their facilities ahead of the department’s planned schedule.

“That is something that we would be willing to consider with other businesses if there are businesses that are interested in needing service now,” she said. “If they are able to do some cost sharing with us for the installation, we may be able to get them in service more quickly.”

Island Hospital is leasing four dark fiber lines from the department, fiber lines that are unused and will connect the hospital to the sleep center, teen center, Mount Vernon and an additional site to allow for eventual faster data sharing.

In 2021, the department plans to expand into the area from A Avenue east to city limits, passing another 1,815 premises. The majority of installations will go underground, and the department is purchasing a specialized machine that can dig trenches up to 50 inches below grade.

“We want to be the internet company of choice,” Schuh said.

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