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As with any utility, having the most capable and reliable infrastructure provides more value to the community and its residents. Having the option for substantial network and internet capacity attracts businesses that require large amounts of bandwidth for their operations. This may be the case for residential customers as well. Based on surveys delivered over the last four years, it is evident that our residents are interested in a citywide fiber network. Communities are constantly needing and demanding higher amounts of bandwidth in their homes. This has especially been true with the recent pandemic that has shifted many of us to work and learn remotely. This fiber investment prepares us all for the future and will position residents and businesses for success.
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Fiber-optic internet, commonly called fiber internet or simply “fiber,” is a broadband connection that can provide some of the fastest speeds in the country. The technology uses fiber-optic cable, which sends data using light waves. Fiber has immense capacity as a single strand of fiber can be used to transport multiple paths of data using different colors of light.
American Fork has committed to build its own open access fiber optic network throughout the entire city. There are typically three general roles in a fiber optic network, namely:
American Fork will make this happen through a public-private partnership (PPP) with STRATA Networks. As part of this PPP, American Fork will be the Network Owner and will contract with STRATA for designing, engineering, and constructing the physical infrastructure. STRATA Networks will also be contracted to be the Network Operator for a designated period of time which can be renewed at the city’s discretion. Internet access will be available through third-party Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in an “open-access” model on the American Fork Fiber Network. This means that participating ISPs on the network can equally utilize the fiber network to provide internet services.
The project will be financed through a bond which was approved by the city in 2020. This bond will be backed by the city and paid for solely by future subscriber revenues. In essence, the network will be funded by those who are using the services it provides.
Currently we are finalizing design and agreement with Strata Networks. Pre-Registration is estimated to begin in winter 2022. This will be an online platform that will allow residents and businesses to pre-register their interest in fiber internet. The areas that show the most interest will be prioritized in the construction schedule. It is estimated that construction will begin in summer 2023 with the estimated completion in fall of 2025.
Both residents and businesses in American Fork will be able to access the fiber optic network.
After receiving resident feedback, American Fork decided to send out a request for Intent to Negotiate (ITN), looking for businesses interested to install and manage our fiber network. Our ITN stated that the system would be resident owned, that the system would be citywide and available to every resident, and that the network would be open access allowing multiple internet service providers to utilize the network. American Fork investigated many options before deciding on who to partner with for network design, construction, and operation. Unlike some other network operators, STRATA Networks provided an open access solution that allows the city to maintain ownership in the network. Along with that, STRATA has nearly 70 years of experience in the industry and three decades of building fiber-to-the-premises networks.
An open access fiber network allows multiple Internet Service Providers to utilize the same fiber infrastructure while offering their own unique services/packages. This model improves competition and results in better service and pricing. It allows smaller companies that may not be able to expand their network to compete with larger providers and will ensure that incumbent providers remain competitive with their offerings.
The city will go through a process of recruiting and selecting ISPs for the network. More information will be released as a list of providers is finalized.
No, citizens will have the option of subscribing to the network or maintaining their current internet connection and provider.
There will not be any utility fee or mandatory taxes imposed to residents to help fund the network. Only those who choose to subscribe to the network will be expected to cover the cost of the package that is selected, and any other installation or equipment fees that may be imposed by your Internet Service Provider.
When the fiber connection to your home or business is completed, you will have access to several Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Each provider will offer internet as a primary service and may provide voice, video, or other services as additional options for your consideration.
No, there is no plan to raise property taxes in American Fork to support the fiber optic network. Rather, the fiber optic network will support itself by subscriber revenue. Additional income from the fiber optic network is anticipated and can be used to further support the city’s needs.
You may choose to continue utilizing your current ISP, but it may not be one of the ISPs utilizing the city’s fiber optic network. The city will go through the process of recruiting and selecting ISPs to join the fiber network and more information will be provided as those providers are finalized. Other ISPs will utilize their existing infrastructure and will continue to be an option for customers.
The mainline fiber will be distributed throughout public streets and neighborhoods either via underground construction (microtrenching, open trenching, directional drilling, etc.) or attached aerially to above ground utility poles. This construction will involve work being done on any city rights of way which may include all the way up to driveway curbing. Drop crews will then run fiber directly to private properties and connect it to a piece of equipment placed on the outside of your home. Next, installers bring cables directly into your home or business, connecting them to fiber internet. Throughout the entire process, great care will be taken to minimize impact to day-to-day traffic, yards, and landscaping.
The city has received a bond to pay for the construction of the network. Financial forecasts indicate that subscriber fees will cover the costs of the bond for the construction and the ongoing maintenance and operation of the fiber network. If subscription rates are greater than anticipated, the city expects a net margin that may be utilized to improve the city in a variety of ways.
Fiber-to-the-Home could increase the value of your home by as much as $5,000, according to the Fiber Broadband Association. This investment in your home means more money in your pocket. More importantly, fiber to your home means a higher quality of life for you in this digital information age, where so much of what we do to enrich our lives has moved online.
Some within the city may feel that their internet speeds are adequate but many feel that additional speeds and reliability are necessary and critical. The project is intended to provide more choices and to offer options to those that need access to fast and affordable connections.
Yes, you can combine wireless (Wi-Fi) with fiber internet, and it is anticipated that most subscribers will choose to utilize Wi-Fi in their home/business network(s) to some degree, although the connection speed can be slightly less than a direct connection depending on your Wi-Fi router capabilities. The speed of wireless will depend upon the type of equipment you are using to establish connectivity, your distance or proximity to the router, and the influence of physical barriers or interferences between your wireless device and the router.
Fiber optic infrastructure and technology has been around for almost 60 years, and although the digital environment has changed dramatically, fiber won’t be going out of style anytime soon. Not only is fiber the best internet you can get right now, it’s also the best option when looking to the future. Since fiber uses light to transmit its data, it loses less energy over long distances. This means that fiber can carry more information much farther than is physically possible across other mediums such as metallic cables (copper, coax, etc.).
The short answer is that it is unlikely that the fiber optic network itself will become obsolete in any reasonable timeline. The equipment that is used to transmit data over the fiber optic network will undergo regular maintenance and upgrades as technology improves and matures based on the income received by subscribers. To date, the speed and bandwidth limit of transmission via optical methods has not yet been achieved. Both wired and wireless technologies that are being deployed or touted as future technologies typically also require a fiber optic network connection at some point. Typically, as the demand for speed and scale increases, the amount of interconnection points with fiber also increases.
Customers will call their chosen Internet Service Provider to resolve any issues. If the issue has to do with network operation or physical maintenance of the fiber network, then the ISP will work with the city’s contracted Network Operator to resolve the issue.
The construction techniques planned for deployment are intended to avoid damage using various techniques such as micro-trenching and directional boring; however, some damage is always possible. Contractors will repair in-kind damages to infrastructure/landscaping during the deployment process and will do everything possible to return private properties to their previous condition.