Superior’s Finance Committee approved a proposal to develop a plan for a municipal fiber optic network and is directing city administration to come up with the $18,000 needed to pay for it.

Entry Point Networks of Salt Lake City, Utah, is proposing to develop a plan to guide city decisions if Superior officials decide to establish a fiber optic network as city infrastructure. The proposal includes educating city leadership about its options, surveying residents and businesses to see if it’s something they want and working with the city to engage and educate the community.

RELATED STORY: Superior IT panel seeks funding to plan fiber optic network

Entry Point would work with the city’s Communications and Information Technology Committee to establish a broadband strategy, conduct a mark analysis of available internet providers as well as prepare a projected cost breakdown for network installation.

“We don’t know what model we would want to follow without this because there’s different options available,” Councilor Tylor Elm said. “It gives us the ability to make an informed decision.”

In a plan created by Entry Point for Riverton City, Utah, options include developing the network to homes and businesses that opt in, developing the infrastructure to the curb or establishing the network directly to homes and businesses.

“It gives us the ability to make an informed decision,” Elm said. He said the Riverton plan is very thorough and provides an action plan if the city decides to move forward with creating the infrastructure.

The goal is to reduce the overall cost for accessing the network. In Ammon, Idaho, which is installing a citywide broadband network in five phases, the cost for internet service has decreased from $93 per month with a two-year contract through the cable company to less than $50 per month for higher speed internet than the cable company offers.

“Fiber optic is obviously going to be the future, I believe,” Councilor Craig Sutherland said. “My opinion, I think we have to prepare for it, and I think our city can greatly benefit from creating this infrastructure, not only for our constituents to use, but for our public safety sectors to use that as well. It seems like cities are going this route.”

The Communications and Information Technology Committee has been discussing developing a network for the cost of installing and maintaining the fiber optic lines and allowing private companies to compete over the city’s network to provide internet access.

“I work at the reservation and we’re doing it at Fond du Lac, and it’s amazing what it costs,” said Tom Anderson, Superior’s contracted internal auditor.

Over 20 years, our city as a whole is spending $160 million on broadband, and because companies provide the infrastructure, they control the market, Sutherland said.

“At some point in our city, natural gas came in,” Councilor Keith Kern said. “We had to have a road map for what we did. If we’re making this a top priority of a city utility … we have to start somewhere. We have no idea where to start. We had this move through our IT committee and this is where our focus is, we have to spend it to get a road map of where we’re going.”