Latest on Gigabit City

Fiber Optic Cable

Status Update

The city of Lexington has a project team working to make our community a gigabit city.  Being a gigabit city means that residents and businesses can access the Internet at download speeds of 1 gigabyte/second.  To download data at gigabit speeds, Lexington will need an infrastructure of optical fibers.  The copper cables currently available do not have the capacity to deliver this speed.   For additional background on this topic, please read an earlier blog post by clicking here.

Since the last update, Lexington’s Chief Information Officer Aldona Valicenti has participated in a meeting of the United States Department of Commerce’s Broadband Opportunity Council.  The Council released its report and recommendations on August 20, 2015, which you review by clicking here.  The project team has since been working to identify the variables, opportunities, and weigh the interests for a fiber build-out.  Council began to review one opportunity with the middle mile project on October 20, 2015.  It is discussed in greater detail below.  The next product of this work will be a recommendation to the mayor and city council.

Digital Equity

One consideration in a fiber build-out recommendation is digital equity.  Digital equity refers to making the opportunities of technology available to all members of the community, particularly those who are under-served and/or underrepresented.  You can review Seattle’s work on this issue by clicking here.  Equitable fiber network build-outs often positively correlate to the amount of public investment in a project.  Public investment allows for public interests to have greater weight in the build-out of a fiber network.  In contrast, an exclusively private build-out may only serve more affluent neighborhoods or subdivisions.  Providing access in an equitable manner means that common interests are advanced.  For example, fiber networks can better help households acquire educational content and even increase the value of homes, outcomes which enhance Lexington’s common wealth.

Middle Mile

An opportunity the team is considering is the KentuckyWired Middle Mile project.  This is a state government project that is funding fiber optic cables that will help wire the state of Kentucky, which currently ranks 42nd out of the 50 states in connectivity.  “Middle mile” often—and in this case—refers to the work of connecting the networks of small towns to high speed carriers, serving as the middle or bridge between the two.  In Kentucky, the middle mile will connect to specific anchor institutions—KCTCS, K-12, universities, and libraries.   This state-level fiber optic project connects to eastern Kentucky through Lexington.  This middle mile development represents a significant opportunity for Lexington because the city is able to piggyback on the state’s infrastructure work for our fiber needs.  As was discussed at the October 20, 2015 work session, Lexington is planning to add fiber dedicated to our city to the fiber being built by the state.  The city must pay for the cable, rather than the work of digging the trench and other accessory costs.  It’s a significant opportunity for cost savings, and it helps pave the way for our gigabit city infrastructure in a manner that complements the work of the state government.

If you would like to connect with a community of gigabit city enthusiasts, please check out the Advocates of Gigabit Internet in Lexington, KY Facebook Page by clicking here.

If you would like to receive email issue updates on Council news from Vice Mayor Steve Kay, please sign up here.

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2 Responses to Latest on Gigabit City

  1. Jim Smith says:

    Steve,

    Unfortunately, adding some strands of fiber to the KentuckyWired route as it passes through Lexington will do virtually nothing to move the needle on true gigabit connectivity and competition for the residents and businesses of Lexington. That will require hundreds, perhaps thousands of miles of fiber optic network going up and down virtually every street in the city. Please reassure me that you are aware of this fact and that you’re not trying to pass this off as something that will have a meaningful impact?

    • Nathan Dickerson says:

      Hi Jim,

      Thank you for your interest and insightful questions on this issue. The intent of this post was to highlight some factors in the gigabit city steering committee’s recommendation.

      The LFUCG-owned fiber has the potential to be part of the middle-mile backbone network required to support “the last mile” FTTP (fiber to the premise) build out. Using the fiber asset as part of or all of the FTTP middle mile build out is a potential strategy, but, the detailed network design will determine how and if it can be used in the backbone network. The LFUCG fiber would reduce both the cost and amount of time for an FTTP build out. The industry estimate is that the middle-mile backbone cost is approximately 20% of the cost of an FTTP build out.

      In other words, while this fiber would not be the fiber that connects to each individual home per se (“the last mile”), it provides a likely advantage in serving as the bridge to those fibers.

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