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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of October 23 - 29, 2002


Boise fiber-optics firm finds home in valley

Will offer new services, not new jobs

Connect Idaho conference 
opens here on Thursday

A contingent of elected officials, community leaders, rural-development practitioners and telecommunications providers will meet Thursday and Friday at the Sun Valley Lodge for the Connect Idaho conference.

The conference seeks to explore how communities and businesses across rural Idaho can improve their competitiveness and ability to communicate by expanding high-speed telecommunication facilities.

The event will include a series of panel discussions about communications technology and the companies working to reach new customers throughout Idaho.

Executives from two Boise-based companies that have recently announced campaigns to offer services in the Wood River Valley, Syringa Networks and Velocitus, will be in attendance.

Express Staff Writer

A Boise-based fiber-optics company is moving into the Wood River Valley, and while it will not bring a bonanza of high-tech job offerings to local residents, it could help many businesses conduct their day-to-day their operations.

Syringa Networks, an independent network-services provider that represents a consortium of 12 small companies with fiber-optics networks throughout Idaho, last week received approval from the Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission to build a new electronics substation east of downtown Hailey.

In two separate unanimous votes, Hailey P&Z commissioners on Oct. 15 gave Syringa representative Michelle Koyle a Conditional Use Permit and Design Review approval for the company to build an approximately 720-square-foot structure on a vacant lot at 410 Croy St.

Koyle told commissioners the building—which will be constructed to resemble a small single-family residence—will be used by Syringa to house electronic equipment that will boost light signals transmitted through an existing fiber-optic network serving the Wood River Valley and beyond.

Koyle noted that the project is part of a larger initiative to link and expand the 12 companies’ numerous—and in some cases disconnected—fiber-optic networks.

"The twelve individual companies joined together, joined all of their fiber, and got Syringa to fill in the gaps," she said.

Rick Gerrard, Syringa sales and marketing manager, explained Monday that the $36 million project was designed primarily to provide new broadband data-transfer services to most parts of the state, including many rural areas. He noted that the Syringa partnership will provide an alternative for businesses that use similar services already offered by communications giant Qwest.

The partnership has received some backing by Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, essentially in the form of a tax credit doled out to companies that promote broadband services throughout Idaho, Gerrard said.

Broadband fiber-optic services typically serve companies engaged in computer research, advanced telecommunications, Internet services, manufacturing, engineering and other activities requiring the high-speed transfer of information.

"We’ll provide an opportunity for businesses in the Wood River Valley to send information through a network that goes to Boise and beyond," Gerrard said.

Koyle last week told P&Z commissioners that a key area not already served by one of the 12 Syringa partners is in the Wood River Valley, prompting Syringa to seek installation of a facility that will allow the company to link to a fiber-optic cable in the valley’s old railroad right of way.

The approved structure in Hailey will include a propane generator and outdoor propane tank. Koyle said the company must have the equipment because Syringa is mandated to keep the network functional in times of a general power outage, mainly as part of contracts with various telecommunications companies.

During a public hearing on the Syringa plan by P&Z commissioners, several neighbors of the Croy Street site expressed a mix of concern and support for the proposed project.

Fourth Street resident Tom Bergin said he was particularly concerned about the visual impacts of lighting and landscaping at the site.

East Croy resident Al Lindley, the mayor of Hailey, said he thought the project would improve the neighborhood and be of benefit to the entire city.

"I do believe this is a positive element to the city," he said.

Koyle said the site will generally be unoccupied, serving essentially as an automated station that will require only occasional visits from an authorized company technician.

"It should be a very minimal impact," she said, noting the site will have a maintained landscape and will be equipped with minimal lighting that complies with city regulations.

Gerrard said that the Hailey facility will enable Syringa to offer network services throughout the valley, but noted the company will seek to add infrastructure in Ketchum next year to make services in the northern Wood River Valley more affordable. "We’ve run into some hurdles in Ketchum," he said. "We probably won’t start actively selling services there until next summer."

Starting in January, Gerrard said he will start offering businesses in the Hailey area several types of service—including frame-relay, ATM, and point-to-point—that can transfer various types of data, including video and voice.

Gerrard noted that several Syringa executives will attend the Connect Idaho conference Thursday and Friday at the Sun Valley Lodge, where they will discuss high-speed telecommunications in the state with other executives and interested parties.



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