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City aids businesses with fiber-link loans

Citys action makes it easy for small businesses to access very high speed Internet


In an effort to advance the installations of fiber-optic cable to businesses in Sandy, the city has acted to benefit both the city and local businesses.

At a recent City Council meeting, councilors granted a $150,000 line of credit that allows the (SandyNet) Telecommunications Fund to borrow money from the Sewer Fund to connect local businesses to existing fiber cable.

The loans would be granted to businesses to pay the connection cost, which could be up to $10,000, said Joe Knapp, director of information technology. The loans would be paid back over five years at 5 percent interest.

Some connections have already been made, and approximately $12,000 in loans has already been given, Knapp said, but that was under a separate action in 2009 when the line of credit was from the Water Fund.

The council’s recent action to switch to the Sewer Fund helps the Water Fund because it is anticipating a lot of expenses for the intertie with Bull Run water.

This opportunity to connect to very high-speed fiber cable could be a boon to some businesses because the service would be between 100 megabits and one gigabit per second. That speed makes anyone’s Internet use very efficient.

It aids the city also, said City Manager Scott Lazenby, since the loans will pay the Sewer Fund a higher rate of interest than the city could earn if the money had been invested on the open market.

With this program, the city will implement a dense wave division multiplexing network that allows the city to maximize the use of its fiber network as well as the Clackamas County fiber ring, which has a distribution unit in Sandy.

The massive fiber cable ring has already been installed around the county and the city has installed cable within its commercial area (from the water reservoir at Vista Loop to the city’s Operations Center on Champion Way).

So all that is needed to make the cable work for businesses is a short trunk line between each business and the existing cable.

“We’ve done this for a number of businesses so far,” Lazenby told the council at its Dec. 17 meeting.

This technology makes it possible for the city to transmit multiple wavelengths of lasers for different customers on the same strands of fiber-optic cable.

Initially, the city wants to connect all branches of Clackamas County Bank with a secure internal network as well as The Resort at the Mountain. Negotiations are also ongoing with Timberline Lodge and a medical clinic with three sites in need of fiber service.

“We have a lot of interest from businesses on the mountain who want SandyNet service,” Knapp said. “So we’re in discussions with a lot of folks up there.”

The line of credit granted at the council meeting does not transfer any funds, Lazenby explained to the council. Instead, it just makes it available when needed.

“We only move funds as businesses sign up,” he said. “This is for a line of credit; we’re looking for approval for $150,000, but we’ll only use it as we need it — as businesses sign up and give commitments. It has been very successful so far. The businesses are paying us at 5 percent, which is considerably more than (the finance director) could invest these funds in the market.”

Speaking as a landlord and owner of commercial property, City Councilor Lois Coleman praised the program.

“I could not afford to put the (fiber) in without this program,” she said. “It’s so simple; (the payments) just come out on the water bill. . . it’s a great program.”

With councilors Dave Beitler and Phil Moyer both absent from the meeting, the five remaining councilors voted unanimously to approve the resolution.