City of Sandy on edge of going higher-tech

By Jim Hart

staff writer

The city of Sandy is asking itself a 'what if' question.

What if the entire city, residences and businesses, were connected with fiber-optic cable?

The SandyNet Advisory Board and the City Council are considering additions to the Telecommunications Master Plan.

The additions to the master plan could be the beginnings of an interconnected city, with messages and images moving at the speed of light inside fiber-optic cable.

Even while fiber-optic cable is being laid to connect the city to its wireless towers, its leaders also are talking about how to wire the city with that miracle cable - thus making the city's Wi-Fi useless.

To begin, City Manager Scott Lazenby told the council he wanted everyone to be careful and minimize the risk to SandyNet, which is owned by the people of Sandy.

One of the initial ideas is to require new developments to install fiber-optic cable to each new home.

But it might take years before the market supports building many new homes. So Lazenby said another idea is to install it in all the homes in an existing neighborhood as a pilot project to test its effectiveness and popularity.

Lazenby reminded the council that needs keep escalating even while the city (SandyNet) is trying to keep costs down.

'This could be one of the smartest things we've ever done,' he said.

Lazenby admitted that in the not-so-distant future SandyNet would be 100 percent fiber, without any wireless signal.

'Nothing is faster than the speed of light,' said Councilor Jeremy Pietzold.

Not only speed, but fiber-optic cable has more capacity than wireless technology.

One of the policy issues that council was asked to think about is whether it is fair to charge residents to have the service available - even if they choose not to use it.

It was acknowledged that there would be costs to the developer, possibly shared by the city, but the addition of fiber-optic cable should increase the value of each new home.

Other policy issues to consider, Lazenby reminded the council, include possible objections from private Internet service providers and complaints from neighborhoods not fiber-connected.

In the long run, Lazenby predicted, the entire city will be connected with fiber and wireless will be outdated.

The council gave city staff an informal consensus of approval to continue to move forward with the steps outlined in the master plan.

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