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Fiber-optic pilot program now underway in Idaho Falls



IDAHO FALLS – The long-awaited pilot program for the new fiber-optic network in Idaho Falls is officially underway.

Idaho Falls Power launched the new Idaho Falls fiber website Monday morning. Households within the pilot area can now sign up for the service.

“We’re ready to start signing up customers and (provide) connections to the home. What we hope to learn (through this pilot program) is what the interest and demand is (for this service),” Idaho Falls Power General Manager Bear Prairie tells EastIdahoNews.com.

Areas currently eligible for the service include the Carriagegate subdivision south of Sunnyside and two areas north of Tautphaus Park.

Idaho Falls Power has been working for the last six months installing necessary infrastructure for the service in the identified pilot areas. Prairie says there are now roughly 700 customers in those neighborhoods who can opt-in to the program.

The area south of Sunnyside has underground fiber lines for the service, but one area near Tautphaus Park has overhead fiber line installations. The other pilot area near Tautphaus Park is the Stonebrook neighborhood. Prairie says fiber infrastructure is not currently in place there, but will be in the next month or so once it’s installed. Once that phase of the pilot program launches, there will be about 1,500 customers eligible for the service.

Those in the pilot area can visit the website and enter their address to determine fiber availability at their location. Once a customer confirms availability at their specific location, the sign-up process continues by selecting a service package and provider that fits your needs.

“We are not interested in becoming an internet service provider. Local companies will (be providing) this service,” Prairie says. “We’re going to bring the connection to the home.”

The city has partnered with four service providers for the fiber-optic network. Those providers include Direct Communications, Qwiknet, SilverStar, and SUMO.

Customers who opt-in to fiber will have a $30 infrastructure fee that will show up on their monthly utility bill, but the cost of internet service is determined by the provider.

“We’ll keep offering fiber service indefinitely in these areas. The pilot side of this is the data collection to see if it makes sense to expand this service city-wide,” says Prairie.

Decisions about expanding the service will happen this summer.

Mayor Rebecca Casper and the Idaho Falls City Council approved the pilot program last September, and expressed excitement for the opportunity to work with the local internet community to provide the cutting-edge internet access to the community.

“This kind of a public-private partnership is exciting. It allows the city to focus on infrastructure—something we excel at,” Casper said in a news release. “And it allows the local internet providers to offer services residents trust from companies they know. It captures the best of both worlds.”

The new website provides pilot program area maps, information on how fiber optics works, billing and service details along with a wide variety of other frequently asked questions about fiber optics and the service.

“We are anticipating strong support and sign-ups to join the network which will validate the demand in our community for this type of infrastructure,” Prairie says.

To learn more about Idaho Falls fiber, visit idahofallsfiber.com.

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