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'Dark fiber' coming to West Linn

It might have an “ominous” sound to it, as Assistant City Manager Kirsten Wyatt joked, but the “dark fiber” optic cable installation coming to West Linn could significantly improve Internet connection speeds and security across the city.

The City Council voted Monday to grant a franchise agreement to Clackamas County for the construction of dark fiber optic cables on city right of way. The high speed fiber optic cables, which are called “dark” if they are unused, would connect first to the West Linn-Wilsonville School District, with the idea being that they would extend further across the city at a later date.

Under the new franchise agreement, the city will receive one free connection to the fiber optic network, worth about $3,000 per year according to Assistant City Attorney Megan Thornton.

“The city can choose where it will be,” Thornton said. “Right across the street (from the new police station) is where they’ll be laying cable, so it would be relatively inexpensive to get a connection to the police station ... City Hall will take longer.”

Even with a connection, however, the city would still need an outside provider for Internet or other services, Thornton said.

“Other carriers will come in and need franchises,” Thornton said. “So if Comcast comes in, it’s needs a franchise for Internet service ... it does open up some opportunities in the future.”

Though future cable installation costs could prove extensive, Thornton said the city could ultimately save money in the long run.

“Once the city is actually connected to the system, it could reduce the number of services we have to pay monthly,” Thornton said at an Aug. 4 work session. “Right now, we have to pay Comcast monthly for every building. (With dark fiber), we would only have to pay for Comcast once.”

“There would be an initial investment on our part, connecting to the dark fiber,” City Manager Chris Jordan said. “But ultimately, we could see savings.”

To start, the dark fiber optic cables will be installed across the school district — starting with Three Rivers Charter School and Willamette Primary, which the school district hopes to have connected by the beginning of the school year. City Councilors Mike Jones and Jenni Tan recused themselves from Monday’s vote, as both have children who attend Three Rivers Charter or Willamette Primary.

According to Thornton, the dark fiber offers speeds of up to 10 gigabytes — 100 times the city’s current speed of 100 megabytes.

The franchise agreement will last 10 years, with the option to renew for an additional 10 years.

Contact Patrick Malee at 503-636-1281 Ext. 106 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




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