Idaho Falls to Begin Citizen FTTH Conversation

  • CCG Consulting
  • Finley Engineering
  • Idaho Falls Power
IDAHO FALLS, ID — The city of Idaho Falls has decided to begin engaging its citizens in a conversation about the options for expanding the Idaho Falls fiber optic network directly to the home.

In 2015 Idaho Falls Power issued a request for qualifications to evaluate expansion options for the city’s existing dark fiber network and to identify potential alternatives associated with expanding high-speed broadband connectivity to the home.

“Recognizing that home broadband use is experiencing exponential growth – doubling every three years – it was appropriate for us to identify the types of options that exist for promoting high speed broadband connectivity to homes as we contemplate the future of our existing network,” says Idaho Falls Power General Manager Jackie Flowers.

Focusing on FTTH

The proposal was awarded to Finley Engineering Company in August 2015 for $56,904. Finley teamed with CCG Consulting to refresh the business model of the city’s fiber optic enterprise and contemplate options for continued expansion, with a focus on fiber connectivity directly to the home. The consulting team presented options for the city’s fiber optic network to the Idaho Falls City Council earlier this afternoon.

The feasibility study not only looked at the cost of building fiber everywhere in the city, but also evaluated the cost of electronics and other assets needed to build and operate a fiber network and what level of penetration rate would be needed to make each option economically viable.

A variety of scenarios were reviewed, ranging from the city being the ISP (Internet Service Provider) to numerous ways that a commercial provider might perform in the city, as well as at an open access network where the city builds the network and multiple ISPs provide the services.

  • City operating the enterprise as an internet service provider based on various public finance options — requires 29 percent penetration rate.

  • City partnering with either an existing or new Internet service provider – requires 40 percent penetration rate and privately financed network expansion.

  • Public private partnership with either an existing or new Internet service provider — requires 40 percent penetration rate and a combination of publicly and privately financed network expansion.

  • Internet service provider “cherry picking” areas of town most likely able to afford connectivity (also known as the Google model) — requires a 35 percent penetration rate and privately financed network expansion.

  • Open access network – building off the existing business model where end use customer choose from multiple providers – publicly financed network expansion with no break even potential.

A series of public information sessions will be held this fall to present the detailed findings of the consultant’s report. “If, after reviewing the report, the citizens of Idaho Falls want us to move forward, we will consider next steps. We are excited to engage the public in this conversation,” states Flowers.


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