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City Lays Groundwork for High-Speed Internet Access (Q & A)

Post Date:01/16/2018 1:30 pm
Family with a laptopThe Hillsboro City Council has approved a plan to “establish a communications utility, create a communications fund, and direct the Planning Commission to initiate a code amendment that would lead to the construction of underground conduits capable of carrying broadband fiber optic cabling to all Hillsboro residents.”

Okay. What does that mean?

Read our Q & A to get answers to key questions.

Why does the City need to establish a communications utility?
The code amendment enables the City to coordinate with public utilities and housing developers to ensure the installation of fiber network infrastructure — conduit, or pipe — whenever they build new roads or dig up existing roads to install new utility infrastructure.

What exactly does it mean to install conduit?
Conduit is a pipe that can hold utility cables — in this case, fiber optic cable. It's much more cost effective and efficient to install the pipe whenever a utility or developer digs into streets or sidewalks (that's the "dig once" strategy). It’s a pathway for the future.

Why is the City of Hillsboro looking at access to high-speed internet?
The internet is an essential utility — like water and electricity — and a prerequisite to enjoying a higher quality of life. The City of Hillsboro recognizes the importance of ensuring all residents, employers, and schools have affordable, high-speed broadband access.

But Hillsboro has talked about this before, so why is this coming up again now?
Hillsboro is a forward-thinking leader in planning for the long term. In 2014, City staff began researching options for ensuring equitable internet access for the Hillsboro community. Now, in 2018, the opportunity to “dig once” in neighborhoods such as South Hillsboro and beyond is timely. With the utility in place, we would coordinate the installation of conduit whenever the ground is open, which saves money and prevents the need to dig up roads and sidewalks later.
Fiber Optic Cable
Does that mean the City is going to provide internet access to homes in the future?

The City has not made a commitment to providing internet access to homes in South Hillsboro or elsewhere. The proposed code amendment would support a basic investment in infrastructure that gives the City a service option for the future.

Who is paying for this fiber network infrastructure?
Developers pay fees to support transportation infrastructure. A portion of that covers costs related to the installation of conduit, with the understanding that the "dig once" strategy will lengthen the life of our roads and sidewalks.

Does the City have any experience with fiber networks?
Fiber networks already support City services. Over time, the City has invested in expanding a City-owned fiber network that connects local governments, provides connectivity to schools, and supports the traffic system. This network could be used to provide internet services in new housing developments and existing homes and businesses, too.

If you install conduit, is there any other use for it than providing internet access?
This investment in connectivity in South Hillsboro and other neighborhoods creates a significant asset that will retain its financial value. What's more, the infrastructure will be capable of providing services that will develop through technological advances we can’t foresee yet.

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