Nearly 15% of all households in Anacortes are either currently in service or have pre-signed up for the city’s fiber optic network, Administrative Services Director Emily Schuh told the City Council Monday.

Over the last 30 days, the number of customers in service rose from 30 to 138, with more installations planned for the coming months. Within the three pilot areas, the take rate for customers varies between 22-32%. In the central business district, the take-rate is 28.6%, in Old Town it is 32.6% and along M Avenue it is 22.5%.

“There’s a lot of interest through the entire city,” Schuh said.

This progress marks a series of renewed momentum for the fiber deployment, which faced a series of rollout delays in the fall due to trouble finding qualified contractors to do the work.

“I think people should feel assured we’re going to get things done a little faster than four months ago,” Council member Ryan Walters said.

Monthly revenue for the service is around $9,000 for the city. Beginning May 11, the fiber installation team began offering in-home installations following the release of Gov. Jay Inslee’s guidelines on safe construction work during COVID-19.

Prior to this, the installation team offered no-contact installations in which the team would talk customers through the internal side of installations. No-contact installations are still offered to customers who prefer it, Schuh said.

“We’re trying to work with wherever people are at in terms of getting them hooked up,” she said.

A “snowbird” temporary service suspension plan has been developed by the fiber team and will be presented to the council for adoption at a later meeting.

The policy would allow customers to suspend internet access for a minimum of 60 days at a rate of $20 per month, which is roughly half the cost of the cheapest service option. It is intended for customers who travel for part of the year. The plan would suspend service but not require any physical returns of equipment or de-installation.

“We think this would be a positive experience for customers; they wouldn’t need anyone to come into their homes,” Schuh said.

Walters suggested that the fiber committee begin the discussion on writing a resolution to be adopted by the council to formalize the fiber program’s transition to service beyond the pilot areas.

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