Lubbock City Utility Board Studies Cost of Fiber Optic Installation


Lubbock Power & Light staff had conducted a study about possible fiber optic network deployment to serve high-speed broadband services to the residential and business subscribers. The study reveals that the cost for the city to install its own fiber optic cable network in downtown Lubbock would be less than USD 100,000. This is a rough estimation obtained after a preliminary feasibility assessment. Director of LP&L presented the cost study at a meeting of Electricity Utility Board (EUB).

Lubbock is the county seat of Lubbock County, Texas, United States. Lubbock is located in the northwestern part of the state, a region known historically and geographically as the Llano Estacado and ecologically is part of the southern end of the Western High Plains. Lubbock has a population of more than 240,000 making it the 84th most populous city in the United States of America and the 11th most populous city in the state of Texas. The city is the economic center of the Lubbock metropolitan area, which had an estimated population of just over 300,000. Lubbock is nicknamed as Hub City due to its overall development and progress in economy, education and health care.

The feasibility study for deployment of fiber optic network was conducted after one of the EUB members suggested for installation of fiber optic cables in underground ducts along with other utility cables such as electric cables. The proposal was to build a network by the city and the LP&L. Since optical fiber transmission is immune to the electromagnetic interferences, placement of fiber optic cables together with the power cables is possible. In the case of copper metallic cables, this kind of deployment is not possible. Non-metallic fiber optic cables can be placed along the electrical cables. This deployment method drastically reduces the fiber deployment cost and helps the network owner get the return on investment quickly.

A study conducted by FTTH Council suggests that more than 65 percent of the project cost goes for civil work. LP&L and the city can save from installation cost. High-speed broadband is getting the status of an essential utility in many countries. Fiber optic networks are capable to deliver gigabit speeds with the current transmission technologies. Optical fiber itself is considered as future-proof as it can adapt to the next higher speeds that the optoelectronic equipment can handle.

After the proposal made in February, LP&L staff have been investigating the cost of the project and are looking into whether there are any state laws that place limits on municipal broadband networks or any legal ramifications if LP&L opted to provide Internet. The utility company estimates that the biggest cost of the project for them would be purchasing the fiber optic cables and the required bandwidth.

The director of LP&L recommended using 144F double sheathed armor loose tube cable, the cost of which should be around USD 5 per meter. Around 6 kilometers of the cable is required to connect to the downtown, which means the cable cost would be around USD 30,000. Labor cost would be less than $100,000 in material cost. 10 Gbps services can be purchased for about $16,500 a month in the US market. If 100 Mbps is served to the subscribers, the above bandwidth would be enough to serve 100 customers. A monthly charge of USD 100 to 250 is expected to get from customers, which would make the business profitable.

LP&L staff will find out the interest in people of downtown for fiber optic Internet services. No service providers offer 1 Gigabit bandwidth to the end users in the area. Even the 100 Mbps speeds available in the area are highly priced. Fiber optic solution from the utility company would be much cheaper and competitive. Though the proposal is at its initial stage, the cost estimation is an encouraging experience for the utility company. Once the staff gathers statistics on the number of potential subscribers, they will get a clear idea and break-even point for the new business LP&L is going to enter. Company’ board will decide based on the survey results.

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