The Community and Information Technology Committee is advancing the idea of developing an open-access fiber optic network and creating a broadband utility in Superior.

The goal is to provide high-speed internet and communication services at a lower cost to the public.

The committee approved seeking $18,000 in funding through the city’s Finance Committee to pay End Point Networks of Salt Lake City, Utah, to develop a plan that would determine if it’s something residents and businesses want; the plan would guide the development of the network if it’s determined to be something the public wants.

The open-access network would be developed and maintained by the city at cost, and individual service providers would offer access to the internet at a lower rate because the companies would no longer be required to maintain the infrastructure for the network.

In Ammon, Idaho, which is currently building its city-owned network, the cost of internet was reduced from $93 per month for 30 megabytes per second download and 5 mbps upload speed service through the cable company to about $48.49 per month for the cost of installing the fiber optic link ($22 per month), network maintenance ($16.50 per month) and the ISP ($9.99 per month) for 1,000 mbps upload and download speeds.

According to Bruce Patterson, Ammon’s technology director, the first improvement district built out actually cost about $2,900 for the link, less than the low-end estimated cost of $3,000, for the fiber optic link because of participation of 73%. The second district, which had a participation rate of 63%, paid about $3,100 for the link.

Over 20 years, the actual costs are about $12.50 and $13 per month, plus interest, for Ammon’s fiber optic link in the first two districts.

A conservative estimate of the cost for the link, paid over 20 years, is $20 per month in Superior.

“We’ve heard from everyone on this committee that’s what they want to do … I think this would be money well spent,” said Dan Shay, the city’s IT manager and an adviser to the committee. He said it makes sense to see if the City Council is serious about creating the utility.

“To me, a fiber optic infrastructure is going to be vital to any city going forward,” said Thomas Janicki, an IT professional and member of the committee.

“It seems like a steal,” said Councilor Tylor Elm, chairman of the committee. He said it makes more sense to develop a plan for $18,000 than to spend $75,000 for a feasibility study. After receiving a detailed, 99-page plan developed by End Point Networks for Riverton, Utah, he said it’s not something that could be developed by city staff.

“If we’re going to make decisions, we’re going to have to jump on it right now,” Councilor Craig Sutherland said, noting the City Council will soon make decisions on the city’s 2020 budget.

Sutherland made a motion to recommend the Finance Committee find $18,000 to pay for the plan when it meets Oct. 10.