Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Consultant promotes fiber-optic tech

Says broadband now ‘engrained’ in everyday life


By BRENNAN REGO
Express Staff Writer


This graphic shows how the bandwidth of fiber-optic, high-speed Internet technology outperforms other available technologies. According to Magellan Advisors, Ketchum’s broadband consultant, people are using more Internet bandwidth on more devices per person, and fiber-optic technology is the only one capable of “scaling” bandwidth along with the mushrooming demand.
Graphic courtesy of Magellan Advisors

    Ketchum’s recently hired broadband planning consultant gave a series of presentations last week promoting fiber-optic, high-speed Internet technology and providing information on the city’s Broadband Strategic Plan, which the city’s broadband committee is currently drafting under the consultant’s guidance.
    Miami-based Magellan Advisors presented at Ketchum City Hall to city businesses on Wednesday, May 15; to the City Council, the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Urban Renewal Agency at a joint meeting of the three entities on Thursday afternoon; and to residents on Thursday evening.
    At the residents meeting, Magellan President John Honker said the firm, hired by the city in March for $24,500, has been working since then with the city’s Broadband Strategic Planning Committee, established by the council in November, to develop the plan. In doing so, the committee aims to identify the city’s high-speed Internet needs and “potentially promote” future broadband infrastructure development in the city’s downtown core, according to a recent news release from the city.
    Honker said the project is currently in the “needs assessment” phase and encouraged all community members to complete a city-sponsored broadband survey, available at www.tinyurl.com/ime-ketchumbroadbandsurvey.
    “This strategic plan is based on your needs,” he said. “We need your input.”
    Honker said that nationally, more people are using increasingly bandwidth-greedy Internet applications, such as videoconferencing, online data storage and advanced home security. He also said the average number of web-capable devices per person is on the rise, requiring more bandwidth.
    “Broadband is now engrained in our everyday lives,” he said.
    According to Honker, fiber-optic technology is the right roadway to handle that increased traffic, but it’s pricey to install.
    “Fiber has become the one technology that can scale bandwidth,” he said. “Others can push the limits farther and farther, but long-term, fiber is really the technology that communities have been moving to.”
    The downtown core has some fiber optic lines, but not enough for all businesses and residents to tap into easily and efficiently. Councilman Baird Gourlay said at a council meeting Monday that the city does not plan to install fiber optic lines and administer a broadband network. Rather, he said, the city’s goal is to enact code changes that would require developers working on projects in the city that involve “digging up” the public right of way to pay to install fiber-capable conduit while the ground is open. He said the city would then “connect the dots” by installing conduit in remaining areas.
    Councilwoman Nina Jonas said installing conduit costs only 25 cents per foot, whereas installing fiber costs $40 per foot. She said the area’s Internet service providers could then compete to install fiber in the city-spearheaded infrastructure.
    “One of the key aspects of [the plan] is to involve and incorporate service providers,” Honker said at the residents meeting, referring to local providers such as CenturyLink, Cox Communications and Syringa Networks.
    According to a project timeline from Magellan, the firm expects to present a final version of the plan to the council this summer.
Brennan Rego: brego@mtexpress.com




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