Friday, June 14, 2013

Ketchum answers broadband questions

Consultant: Itís very early to respond

Express Staff Writer

    Ketchum Mayor Randy Hall and the city’s recently hired broadband strategic plan consultant have answered some lingering questions concerning the city’s nascent plan to bury fiber-optic-ready infrastructure throughout the city’s downtown.
    “Whoever breaks it will pay to fix it,” Hall said in an interview in response to questioning about who would foot the bill should the infrastructure one day fail.
    Hall said such a situation would be similar to instances when people break water, sewer, power or gas lines.
    Internet service providers such as CenturyLink, Cox Communications and Syringa Networks would own the fiber-optic cable inside the city-organized conduit. Hall said the city’s plan is not to install the infrastructure directly, but to let the network build itself over time. He said the city plans to require anybody who digs up downtown streets to install conduit before closing the trench. Once the network sprouts sufficiently, the city would “connect the dots” by linking the remaining (hopefully minimal) fiberless sections.
    “The city has no intention of owning any of that infrastructure,” Hall said. “We’d just be facilitating the conduit as our part of the partnership. If the service providers want to run fiber through the conduit, we’ll let them use it.”
    Hall said the Internet service providers would be the ones generating revenue from their fiber lines, so they should be responsible for maintaining the product.
    Hall also said the city, especially its emergency services departments, might consider negotiating a discount for services with the providers, a tit-for-tat for enabling the infrastructure.
    The city’s broadband consultant is Miami-based Magellan Advisors, hired in March for $24,500.
    At a City Council meeting in May, Magellan President John Honker said the firm has been working since then with the city’s Broadband Strategic Planning Committee, established by the council in November, to develop a long-term broadband strategic plan. The committee aims to identify the city’s high-speed Internet needs before progressing with the project.
    “It’s very early to begin to put some answers around these questions,” said Courtney Violette, a managing partner with Magellan. “We’ll be in town the week of July 8 and we’ll work through some of those issues with the committee at that point.”

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