Idaho Falls Fiber Celebrates Milestone with 1,000th Customer

Published online: Dec 28, 2020 Articles, East Idaho Business
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IDAHO FALLS – The Idaho Falls Fiber Network celebrated a significant milestone yesterday with the addition of its 1000th customer to join the high speed fiber optic network.

Idaho Falls residents Todd and Gina Stevenson joined Idaho Falls Fiber representatives and Idaho Falls Fiber General Manager Bear Prairie at the fiber hut located at Idaho Falls Power’s Harrison Substation, to connect their home to the utility’s fiber backbone network.

At the fiber hut, the Stevenson’s were able to actually plug their unique, dedicated fiber optic line directly into the Idaho Falls Fiber network, officially making them the 1,000th customer to join the rapidly expanding high-speed system.  

“We are excited to celebrate this milestone and are already looking forward to our 5,000th connection,” said Prairie.  “I hope people will go to our interactive map online and see if we are in your neighborhood, and if we aren’t, we hope to be there soon.  This is truly a community owned network, and we are excited to bring the technology to our community at an affordable price.”

In September of 2018, the Idaho Falls City Council voted to establish a fiber pilot program to test the economic feasibility of leveraging existing Idaho Falls Power infrastructure to install fiber optic lines to residential areas.  The success of that pilot program led the council to direct Idaho Falls Fiber to continue the expansion of the network in October of the following year.

Since that time, Idaho Falls Fiber has installed fiber infrastructure to, or “passed by,” more than 6,000 homes in the Idaho Falls area, with plans to nearly double that within the next 6 months.  The utility expects to have the network completely built out to the entire city by the end of 2024.  

Idaho Falls Power and Idaho Falls Fiber Crews install the fiber optic lines either on existing overhead power lines, in existing underground conduit, or in new conduit as it is installed as new homes are built.  The Idaho Falls Fiber model is unique because the utility does not “daisy chain” homes together on one fiber connection; rather, each home on the Idaho Falls Fiber network receives its own individual, dedicated fiber connection.  

During the pilot program, Idaho Falls Fiber worked with four local Internet providers, Direct Communications, Qwk.net, Silver Star, and SUMO Fiber, to offer residents a variety of services and pricing. Idaho Falls Fiber also partnered with UTOPIA Fiber, which owns and operates open access fiber networks in Utah. UTOPIA provided consulting, network design and is an Idaho Falls technology provider for the open access system software.

“This kind of a public-private partnership is exciting. It allows the city to focus on infrastructure—something we excel at,” said Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper. “And, it allows local Internet providers to offer their internet services to residents where they previously could not get this type of infrastructure to deliver a reliable high speed internet product. It captures the best of both worlds.”

Residents who connect to the Idaho Falls fiber network pay a monthly $25 dollar charge on their utility bill for the fiber infrastructure, in addition to a monthly provider charge to the service provider they select to provide their fiber service.  Total costs for cutting-edge, high speed services vary between $59 and $100 per month, based on the type of speed and provider customers select.  

For more information on the network and the areas of future expansion, community residents can visit www.idahofallsfiber.com or stop by Idaho Falls Fiber’s office at 140 S. Capital in Idaho Falls. Customers can pre-sign up for the high speed fiber network service online or in person which will help direct Idaho Falls Fiber to the most underserved areas first.

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