Fiber optic broadband internet service connects your home directly to the internet using light signals traveling over glass fibers buried in the ground. Think: “shining a flashlight down a long glass tube” - from your house to Lucas’ datacenter at City Hall! Because light is used for signaling instead of electricity, fiber networks can often be designed to be completely “passive”, with no powered devices in the distribution network, significantly lowering operation and maintenance costs. And, when the time comes to “go faster”, it can be as simple a change of equipment at either end of the line! Fiber-optic networks have been deployed for over 30 years now and have become the backbone of the modern internet. New fiber-based technologies on the horizon ensure it will stay “future-proof” and keep this position for decades to come. There is very little debate - fiber optic networks are the “gold-standard” for reliable networks and will stand the test of time.
Lucas tried! The Technology Committee spent months exhausting these options, trying to incentivize the current players to offer solutions. All of the existing wireline providers were approached, and each refused to commit to either expanding their service footprint or upgrading their existing infrastructure. The fact is, infrastructure is expensive. Especially infrastructure that’s built to last. Private companies have return on investment criteria that is no longer compatible with building infrastructure.
The feasibility study lays out an estimated buildout timeline for the project of 24 months, after an initial design phase of 8 months. If Proposition B passes in November, this design work could start immediately. The study estimates that construction could begin in 2021, allowing first customers to be connected as early as mid-2022, and the entire network could be completed (all residents served) as early as 2023. Source: https://www.lucastexas.us/q-a-project-construction/
This is largely up to you and your neighbors! The feasibility study models a single pricing scenario of $115/mo. for 1 Gbps / 1,000 Mpbs service with 55% of residents taking service, but this is not set in stone. The more people that take service, the cheaper the monthly price can be. Or, if fewer households take service, the price may need to be raised. Source: https://www.lucastexas.us/q-a-internet-service-costs/
“Mbps” stands for Megabits (million bits) per second; “Gbps” stands for Gigabits (billion bits) per second. Simply put 1000 Mbps is the same speed as 1 Gbps. A “bit” is a basic unit of electronic information, and these terms are measures of how “fast” these bits can be transferred over a network connection. The higher the speed, the better your experience will be when using the internet. The easiest way to understand bandwidth (and Mbps) is to think about water and a hose. Imagine you need to fill up a swimming pool with water. A larger hose that puts out more water per minute (like a fire hose) will fill the pool much faster than a small hose (like a garden hose), right? The same is true about internet bandwidth and Mbps. The FCC defines a minimum standard for broadband at 25 Mbps downstream (“from the internet to you”) and 3 Mbps upstream (“from you to the internet”), and is considering increasing these standards in the near future. Many in Lucas cannot even access these basic minimum speeds, and even those who can can’t do so reliably. The proposed Lucas fiber-optic broadband network would provide world-class, reliable 1 Gbps / 1,000 Mbps and 10 Gbps / 10,000 Mbps service options to every resident of Lucas.
The dominant internet access technologies available in Lucas today fall into two major categories: Wireless and Wireline. Wireline is the most reliable type of service. The connection runs through cabling buried in the ground (or sometimes, hung from utility poles) and is usually provided by telecommunications and cable companies like AT&T, Suddenlink, and Frontier (formerly Verizon). AT&T typically provides wireline service based on a technology called “DSL”, which runs over old copper phone lines and has performance that degrades quickly with increasing distance from the provider’s field equipment. While new developments may be getting newer technologies, the majority of those in Lucas served by these providers are stuck with aging infrastructure that can barely provide broadband speeds. Suddenlink provides service over copper cable lines that are also used for providing cable TV. Cable internet provides upload speeds significantly less than that of fiber (typically around 10-20 Mbps), but fast download speeds that max out at around 1 gbps with current technology. Although Suddenlink will often advertise internet in the area, their existing network is designed for cable tv only and they only provide internet to a few small areas in Lucas. A very lucky minority of Lucas residents already have fiber optic service with Frontier when the last network investments were made in the mid 2000s by then Verizon. Frontier is recently facing bankruptcy and has no intention of expanding service in Lucas. Wireless services are slower and less reliable, and include: Satellite, Fixed Wireless, Mobile Wireless (4G LTE). They are all subject to signal quality fade from radio interference and weather conditions, and often suffer from unique congestion problems when the radio spectrum they use is shared with a large number of subscribers in a small area. While wireless service is a popular “last resort” solution, it can never approach the speed and reliability of a wireline solution and thus cannot be a long-term solution for Lucas.
Yes and no. The proposed utility is designed to be self-supporting, meaning that the monthly fees charged for internet service are expected to be enough to make the payments on the bonds which provided the funds to construct the network. In this case, there will be no tax impact to Lucas residents. However, any time a city borrows money it must guarantee the payments on the bonds through tax collection. If the city doesn’t collect enough money from monthly fees to make the payments on the bonds, the city would either have to increase the monthly fees or make up the difference with tax revenue. The financial model provided by Magellan provides the scenario of $115 dollars per month per subscriber for internet speeds of 1000 Mbps. If 55% of residents in Lucas take the service at this rate there would not be any increase to property taxes. For more detailed information check the City website: https://www.lucastexas.us/q-a-financial-model/
To build a world-class, reliable fiber optic network, you have to put cables in the ground. To do that, you have to dig a few trenches. Most of the underground construction activity will occur along utility easements by crews experienced with this kind of work. Modern underground construction crews employ a variety of techniques to minimize impacts to traffic and property.
To connect your home, a qualified contractor will need to dig a trench and run a fiber optic cable from the street to a service entry point on the side of your home. If you don’t take service, the crew will pass your home with the feeder cabling in a utility easement to serve your neighbors.
It’s true, Lucas has never run a broadband utility before! But just like with its water utility or road projects, Lucas would hire qualified experts to design, construct, operate and maintain it. And one thing is certain: we have many active and engaged technology experts living in our community who are willing to volunteer their time and effort to see this done right.
As part of the planning process the City will have to come up with a plan for support issues. Starting on page 51 of the feasibility study (link) staffing requirements are discussed for the different broadband operations. The feasibility study discusses leveraging existing staff to cover some of the support needs but will ultimately need to hire additional support staff and technicians.
No. Once the fiber line has been run to your house, you will not need any other external equipment to receive your internet service. If you previously had a pole-mounted antenna on your roof, you will be able to remove it as it will no longer be needed.
The City of Lucas has created a website with a lot of detailed information to provide answers to us as residents. Please visit their website here to look at the feasibility study, see meeting notes, submit questions to the city, and much more. https://www.lucastexas.us/departments/lucas-broadband-project/