August 11, 2008

Effort to Build Palo Alto Fiber Optic Network May Come From Boise

By Hagadone, Zach

One of the nation's largest installers of services and systems for the home entertainment, communications, enterprise data and home integration industries may be connecting about 80,000 Palo Alto residents to a city-wide fiber optic network, and, if approved by the city council, the firm's office in Boise would spearhead the project.

Ron Ivie, director of engineering and construction for 180 Connect's Network Services division, headquartered in Boise, said while about 80 percent of the company's business comes from DirectTV install, his team of 35 in the Treasure Valley coordinates and oversees other large-scale fiber optic, fiber-hybrid and wireless connection projects around the country, including two in Washington, three in California and two in Utah.

"We will be instrumental in supporting the kick-off, the engineering, construction and installation of the project," he said. "Essentially the team here drives those projects."

The contract, which Ivie said could come to between $30 and $34 million, is still in the preliminary stages, but Palo Alto officials voted to speed the process late last month, moving toward discussion of how to structure the agreement. A decision could be made on that by November, at which time the proposal will go back to council for a final vote.

If it gets the go-ahead, Ivie said the network could entail around 40,000 connections and take about three years to complete. The connections would link every home and business in the city to high-speed Internet.

"The benefit is that it provides competition, low cost solutions and it provides services that are not being provided today," Ivie said.

The council voted 5-1 to pursue negotiations, with councilwoman Yoriko Kishimoto quoted as saying the network is needed to keep pace with technology.

"It's for the next generation," KCBS radio in the Bay Area reported.

180 Connect, which has corporate headquarters in Denver, operates 85 branches in the U.S. and Canada and employs about 4,000 technicians.

Credit: Zach Hagadone

(Copyright 2008 Dolan Media Newswires)

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