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Installation of city-wide fiber-optic network planned for 2025

SiFi Networks will install its fiber-optic networking system city-wide at its own cost, estimated at $300,000,000, then sell access to internet service providers for homes and businesses.

Riverside internet customers will benefit from a privately-owned, $300,000,000 fiber-optic cable network slated to begin installation over the next 2-4 years. City staff from the Office of Innovation and Technology presented a plan to the Riverside City Council on Tuesday afternoon that would allow SiFi Networks, Inc., to build and install the system at its own cost, and then charge retail internet service providers (ISPs) to offer internet service to Riverside customers. Existing cable providers such as AT&T, Spectrum, FiOS and others could continue to operate within the city.

SiFi Networks’ plan is to install 1,690 square miles of its Fibercity system, which will be accessible to every home and business throughout Riverside. The company boasts that its cables are installed in a “minimally invasive” construction method consisting of 1.5 to 2 inch micro-trenches which can advance up to 2,500 feet per day, according to the city’s presentation. As part of the agreement, SiFi will allow the city to use the network for governmental internal data communication and non-retail purposes. The proposal also calls for 100 positions to be recruited and filled from within the community.

The company has installed or is currently installing its network in several local Southern California cities including Fullerton, Placentia, Lancaster, Palmdale and Simi Valley. SiFi also has a track record in Texas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts and upstate New York.

Reached via email on Wednesday, George Khalil, chief information officer for the Office of Innovation and Technology, stated that the city’s development agreement with SiFi calls for the company to complete 95 percent of the installation in four years. Target completion is anticipated by 2025, though SiFi’s contract gives them until 2026 to finish.

Fiber optic cable is made up of strands of glass fibers that use light to carry data. Fiber-optic networks are valued for their long-distance, high-performance data networking and telecommunication speeds, especially when compared to other networking methods such as coaxial cable and digital subscriber lines (DSL).

Though the city council voted 6-1 to approve signing the development agreement, Khalil said SiFi will still need to come before the council during a later engineering phase for property acquisition and leasing agreements.