Internet at near-light speeds may be coming to Mesa |

ttwo Internet service providers, Google Fiber and SiFi Networks Mesa, are seeking licenses from the City of Mesa to install fiber optic cable under city roads for delivery to residents.

Once installed in a neighborhood, Mesa residents have the option to subscribe to the providers’ Internet service.

Google Fiber announced its plans “to implement 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 the width of a human hair, rather than copper wire.

Sending data converted into light signals is significantly faster than sending electrical signals over copper wire, the material that has been the standard connection type for the 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.

The Mesa City Council plans to consider separate five-year licensing deals with the two companies during its July 11 meeting.

According to city documents, Google Fiber would pay the city an annual Right of Way Underground Conduit Fee for street access, and the company would also be responsible for all permitting, traffic control and material testing costs.

In lieu of the annual priority fee, the city would allow SiFi to provide in-kind network services to the city and “provide discounted broadband services to up to 33,000 households eligible to earn income on their Mesa network, allowing Mesa’s digital distribute,” a staff report reads.

“There is no charge to the city for executing this license outside of staff time,” city staff wrote of both the Google and SiFi agreements.

In its blog post announcing its plan to expand in Mesa, Google Fiber said the company aims to begin installing fiber by early 2023.

Both companies plan to use “micro-trenching” to install the fiber optic cabling, a technique that reduces traffic impact during installation.

To make 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 improving its internet infrastructure for several years now.

In January, the city made a request for information “to identify potential partners who can install and operate an open-access fiber network in Mesa to bridge the digital divide,” according to a press release.

The aim of the initiative is to eventually connect 264,000 city buildings

and 2,470 street miles to the fastest internet speeds.

“We want fiber in the ground, and we want it to happen sooner than we saw,” city manager Chris Brady told councilors at a study session in April.

During the session, Brady said the city received encouraging interest, with seven companies submitting “robust” responses to the city.

“These people think they can make some money on Mesa,” Brady said.

Brady added that Internet service providers estimate that 30% of customers they pass would subscribe with fiber optic cable — enough to make the installation worth the effort.

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