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City of Sandy plans bonds to fund Fiber to Home

Once funding comes through in mid- February, the project can begin in April


Sandy’s City Council passed a motion Monday, Jan. 6, to accept a bond issuance in an amount up to $7.5 million for the Fiber to Home Project. As of now, the project is simply waiting for funding — the bonds should be issued about mid-February.

Joe Knapp, IT director for the city and SandyNet general manager, said that so far, the project has received a lot of positive feedback. Many residents have been asking why the project isn’t available now.

The idea for the project came about when video streaming became popular, radically changing the way the Internet is used. Knapp said many Internet providers have instituted data caps so users can’t stream large amounts of video, something that SandyNet has wanted very much to stay away from.

For Sandy, the Fiber to Home Project represents a future proof network, a network that can grow with the city for the next 30 years. With Fiber to Home, the goal is to never have to worry about capacity issues because of its speed, and just let people do what they need with their connections.

The base-line plan will offer 100 megabits per second at $39.95 a month, making it one of the cheapest options in the country, Knapp said. The project also hopes to offer a plan that runs at speeds of 1,000 megabits per second, but its monthly price has not yet been decided.

“We’re not in it to make a profit,” City Manager Seth Atkinson said about the plan’s low pricing. “We’re in it to provide a service.”

Atkinson said as more residents join the service, the pricing could lower even more.

The city is being conservative with its expectations on how many people will join the service at first because of those who might be stuck in contracts with other Internet-service providers. They expect about 1,200 to 1,300 users to be on the system when it begins, the number of customers that SandyNet currently has. Knapp said they will offer the upgrade to those customers free of charge.

In December, the city signed a contract with OFS Fitel Services International to head up construction for the project. Atkinson estimated that each “home drop” installation process would cost about $1,000.

At the Jan. 6 City Council meeting, Mayor Bill King asked Atkinson to specify how much of the public’s tax dollars would be spent in repaying the bonds, to which he replied, “none.” The bonds are expected to be paid back solely through revenue brought in by the service, which will consist mainly of user fees over the years.

“That should alleviate any concerns on the city spending money,” King said.

As with any bond issuance, the city is now a little more than one week into its designated 30-day period awaiting the possibility that voters will want to take the bond decision to a ballot vote.

Knapp said construction is expected to start sometime in April. Construction is estimated to take anywhere from nine months to one year, putting the project at completion in spring of 2015.