Two internet service providers, Google Fiber and SiFi Networks Mesa, are seeking licenses from the City of Mesa to install fiber optic cable beneath city roads for delivery to residents.
Once installed in a neighborhood, Mesa residents will have the option to subscribe to the providers’ internet service.
Google Fiber announced its plans “to deploy a gigabit speed, fiber-to-the-home network in Mesa” in a blog post on July 1.
Fiber optic cables transmit data using thin strands of glass about the width of a human hair, rather than copper wire.
Transmitting data converted to light signals is significantly faster than sending electrical signals via copper wire, the materials that have been the standard connection type for internet.
According to the University of Texas, fiber optic internet can transmit 1,000 books, 100 audio channels or 16 high-definition television channels every second.
Mesa City Council plans to consider separate five-year license agreements with the two companies at its July 11 meeting.
According to city documents, Google Fiber would pay the city an annual Right of Way Underground Conduit Fee for access to the street, and the company would also be responsible for all permit, traffic control, and material testing fees.
In lieu of its annual right-of-way fee, the city would allow SiFi to provide in-kind network services for the city and provide “discounted broadband services for up to 33,000 income eligible households on their Mesa network, helping to close Mesa’s digital divide,” a staff report states.
“There is no cost to the city for the execution of this license beyond staff time,” city staff wrote of both the Google and the SiFi agreements.
In its blog post announcing the plan to expand in Mesa, Google Fiber said the company aimed to begin installation of fiber in early 2023.
Both companies plan to use “micro-trenching” to install the fiber optic cabling, a technique that reduces traffic impact during installation.
To create a micro-trench, a saw blade cuts a slot in the road 2.5 inches wide and between 6 and 10 inches deep.
Mesa has been working on enhancing its internet infrastructure for several years.
In January the city issued a Request for Information “to identify potential partners who can install and operate an open-access fiber network across Mesa to bridge the digital divide,” a press release at the time stated.
The goal of the initiative is to eventually connect 264,000 city premises
and 2,470 street miles to the fastest internet speeds.
“We want fiber in the ground, and we want it sooner than we saw was happening,” City Manager Chris Brady told council members during an April study session.
At the session, Brady said the city received an encouraging level of interest, with seven companies submitting “robust” responses to the city.
“These folks think they can make some money Mesa,” Brady said.
Brady added that internet service providers are estimating that 30% of customers they pass with fiber optic cable would subscribe – enough to make the installation worthwhile.