New High Speed Internet Project Launched

Editor | - May 20, 2013

'A $1 million broadband infrastructure project to improve Internet speed, pricing and availability in Santa Fe is beginning...'

From a City of Santa Fe press release...

A $1 million broadband infrastructure project to improve Internet speed, pricing and availability in Santa Fe is beginning today. This has been a priority for City of Santa Fe Economic Development for almost five years. A Request for Qualifications is being issued to selected firms to compete for the opportunity to design, build, own and operate a fiber-optic link from downtown Santa Fe to the St. Michael’s Drive corridor.

“It’s wonderful that we will finally be able to build this project and improve Internet in Santa Fe,” said Mayor David Coss. “The City Council heard the request from businesses and community members and made it a priority for our bond funding.”

The project was authorized by the City Council as part of a Capital Improvements Program bond issue in 2012. Once complete it will enable local Internet providers to increase their network capacities and reduce costs. In turn this will translate into better speeds and lower prices for customers. Slow and expensive Internet has been a recurring complaint among local residents and businesses.

Physically the project consists of a fiber optic cable running inside an underground pipe. Data is transmitted from one end of the cable to the other over strands of glass fiber using a signal composed entirely of visible light. This technology allows for extremely high data speeds, very low power consumption and no electromagnetic noise or interference. The cable will follow city streets using “directional boring” construction techniques which drastically reduce traffic impacts and asphalt cutting, trenching and patching. The only visual evidence of the completed project will be new manholes along the route.

Santa Fe is considered “well-served” in a national ranking of the number of local providers, geographical availability and median level of service. Every home and most businesses already have two physical routes to the Internet: A telephone line and a television cable. In addition to these physical connections, mobile devices, as well as small, fixed antennas attached to the outside of buildings; provide Internet to an increasing number of individuals, residences and businesses. But in spite of this abundance of pathways, there is a crucial missing link in the infrastructure, an enduring legacy of the former telephone monopoly. This missing link spans from the central telephone office to a location about two miles away where several fiber optic cables emerge from the ground after traversing many miles of road, railroad and countryside from remote junctions across the state. Absent this two-mile link, local providers have only one way to connect to the outside world, and must pay a steep toll on the data transmitted over it. This effectively limits the levels of service they offer their customers. The project being launched today will bridge that gap, allowing providers for the first time to shop for better toll rates, interconnect with their choice of carriers and increase levels of customer service.

Once the project is operational, it is expected that local providers will begin to offer improved high speed Internet to businesses and institutions along the route, which will run through the Railyard to St. Michael’s Drive. Airport Road and other areas will achieve similar availability as demand grows and providers extend the network to serve customers in those areas.