City looking to hike investment in fiber optic cable 

Santa Clarita City Hall, as pictured on February, 26, 2020, is located on the 23900 block of Valencia Blvd. Dan Watson/The Signal

The Santa Clarita City Council is planning Tuesday to look at a $3.45 million investment to upgrade the city’s fiber optic cable capacity. 

The city’s current network of fiber optic cabling connects traffic signals to City Hall’s traffic operations center, according to a city report on the topic. The report also says the investment is worthwhile because internet service providers’ infrastructure plans for the area haven’t kept up with the demand. 

The areas identified for the capacity upgrades, according to the city’s proposal, are as follows:  

• Valencia Boulevard, from the McBean Transfer Station to Bouquet Canyon Road. 

• Bouquet Canyon Road, from Valencia Boulevard to Seco Canyon Road, and from Valencia Boulevard to Magic Mountain Parkway. 

• Railroad Avenue, from Magic Mountain Parkway to Newhall Avenue. 

• Newhall Ranch Road, from Bouquet Canyon Road to Copper Hill Drive. 

• Copper Hill Drive, from Newhall Ranch Road and Alta Vista Avenue. 

• Magic Mountain Parkway, from Tourney Road to Valencia Boulevard. 

• McBean Parkway, from Singing Hills Drive to Decoro Drive. 

• Soledad Canyon Road, from Bouquet to Sand Canyon roads. 

• Via Princessa, from May Way to Whites Canyon Road, and from Weyerhauser Way to Lost Canyon Road. 

“At its core, this agenda item is an infrastructure project,” said Benny Ives, information services manager for the city. “The city is simply adding more fiber optic cabling to future-proof itself at the physical layer.” 

The cable will remain “dark” or unused, until city officials “receive interest from any third parties or (internet service providers) to lease fiber,” Ives said, adding the project does have the potential to produce revenue for the city through a lease of the infrastructure to ISPs. 

What speed could the cable provide? 

“The best way to answer (the) upload/download question is to simply state that fiber optic cabling is the fastest medium currently available in the marketplace and that the speed of fiber is only limited by the electronics used to ‘light’ it,” Ives said. “Electronics that can transmit upwards of 400 (billions of bits per second) are becoming more and more commonplace, albeit they are still very expensive.”  

The city staff is recommending the project because the marketplace hasn’t kept up with user demand, according to a staff report expected to be presented Tuesday by Shannon Pickett, assistant city engineer for the city’s Public Works Department. 

In addition to potential revenue, the city sees the project as vital for its efforts to draw companies to the area, said Thomas Cole, the city’s director of economic development. 

“Expanding the city’s fiber broadband internet capability will benefit business attraction efforts by keeping Santa Clarita competitive as an ideal place to do business. The pandemic accelerated the need for reliable, high-speed internet access, and the city understands how important it is for businesses to keep up with the rapid growth of e-commerce and logistics, and the demand needed to support their remote workforce,” Cole said. “One of the many benefits an expanded fiber network offers, is to transmit data at incredibly high speeds, ensuring operations run more efficiently and effectively, ultimately resulting in cost savings for businesses.” 

Pickett was unavailable Friday to answer questions regarding a timeline for the project’s completion, if the City Council approves staff recommendations next week. 

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