Plans to move forward with a municipal fiber broadband pilot project hit another delay this week as the Anacortes City Council voted unanimously to reject the sole bid made for fiber optic installation.

The bid from OFS Fitel Services International surpassed the city’s projected costs for fiber installation, council member Ryan Walters said Monday.

The city has struggled to find a contractor to install both the fiber optic drop cable to the customer site and the indoor fiber equipment.

The bid was $458,507 for 300 customer installations, which comes out to about $1,538 per installation, City Administrative Services Director Emily Schuh said. That’s more than twice what the city had projected.

Schuh said the city has three options: put the project out to bid again through the state’s competitive bidding process, solicit separate bids for the outdoor and indoor installations or have city staff complete fiber installations.

Walters said the city should adjust the criteria for proposals in order to solicit more bids and bids at lower prices.

The city has budgeted $3.1 million over two years to start the network in the three pilot areas. The plan is that as more customers sign up, the network will start to pay for itself.

“We do need to move quickly,” Walters said. “We need to get installations done and revenue coming in.”

The city will charge customers a one-time $100 installation fee plus a monthly use fee. Residential rates are set at $69 per month for 1 gigabit-per-second service and $39 a month for 100-megabit-per-second service. Business rates are $149 for 1 gbps and $89 for 100 mbps.

As of late December, 155 customers in the three pilot areas had signed up for fiber internet, city staff said previously. Fiber orders citywide totaled 704.

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