The COVID-19 pandemic has put the spotlight on the connectivity issues and middling internet speeds Culver City residents have been dealing with, but those problems will soon be in the rear view mirror.
At its Nov. 9 meeting, the Culver City council voted to enter an agreement with Ting Internet to provide the option for high-speed fiber internet for Culver City residences. The primary option from Ting will be 1 GB symmetrical internet — which provides 1 GB of both upload and download speeds — for $89 a month.
Other options are expected for consumers looking for a lower price.
The move is the latest and perhaps final step in a process that has gone on for over seven years. An initial report on a project to improve the internet service by building a fiber infrastructure began in 2013 when the city hoped to provide fiber internet to small businesses in specific tracts of the city to serve a growing need for enhanced broadband in the city, as well as to attract potential tenants and developers.
These five initial tracts were Fox Hills, Hayden Tract, Smiley-Blackwelder, and Washington-National, and were positioned to mainly focus on small businesses in the community.
In order to do this, an infrastructure had to be built to connect pieces of existing network, as well as to connect all of the tracts together in a single network. To do this, a 21.7 mile network backbone consisting of 576 strands of fiber was built.
On Nov. 9, 2015 — exactly five years before making the decision to provide fiber internet to residences — the city council officially approved the funds for the construction of the network backbone.
The initial approval was for a construction loan not to exceed $10,000,000 and a working capital loan — which is geared specifically to finance the daily operations of a business or project — not to exceed $1,500,000. These loans both came from the General Fund.
Additionally, a separate appropriation of $10,265,000 was made to establish the Municipal Fiber Network Enterprise Fund. This fund backs the accounting and financial reporting of revenues and expenditures related to the Network.
The network was completed in 2018, but this was still only for the previously mentioned commercial backbone. Laterals will be needed in order to connect residences to the network, which will be done by Ting through a process called microtrenching.
As the name suggests, a small trench — usually about one to three inches wide and five to 12 inches deep is carved into the edges of sidewalks for cables to be inlaid.
Microtrenching is a relatively new process, so long term studies on the durability of the trenches and the materials used for the cables have not been conducted.
According to the city’s staff report on the matter, “Public Works staff will develop microtrenching standards to which Ting will be required to adhere and to the greatest extent possible, the City will place the responsibility on Ting for repairs and replacement arising from its use of microtrenching.”
While microtrenching construction is noisy, the small scale of the operation will make it so construction will not last more than a day in any particular area barring significant complications. However, parking on the streets where microtrenching is occurring will be prohibited on the day of construction.
Ting launched its Culver City website and Facebook page on Tuesday, allowing for $9 pre orders for residents excited to switch internet providers. This pre order includes free installation and a $50 credit on the first bill.
For all orders, the customer must provide the router, but Ting provides several options for customers.
The first is to use their own router, which can be acquired with an 18 month warranty for $199 or rented for $9 a month.
The second is that customers can purchase and use a router of their choice as long as it is compatible with Zing’s Optical Network Terminal (ONT) — a fiber modem provided by Zing at no additional cost. A list of compatible routers can be found on Zing’s website.
Construction of the residential fiber network is expected to start in 2021, with a full service roll out planned for summer 2021.
For more information, visit the Ting Culver City Facebook page or the Ting Culver City website.