Consultant needed to make fiber-optic network complete

THE CITY OF PLYMOUTH has half a fiber-optic network waiting to be finished – and for city facilities to be connected to it.

The plan is eventually to connect all city and Plymouth Utilities facilities - from City Hall and the Plymouth Utilities operations center to wells, sewer lift stations, electric substations and more.

The idea is to provide instantaneous exchanges of information as well as up-to-the-second monitoring of vital utilities facilities to ensure they function properly at all times.

The city borrowed money several years ago to finance the project and began the installation of the fiber-optic cables. To date, the cable runs from the electric substation at Johnsonville along the east and south sides of the city. The rest of the network, when completed, will include wells, electric substations and other facilities on the west and north sides of the city in one loop.

The City Council last week approved the purchase of necessary hardware to connect all the facilities already on the network with each and the Plymouth Utilities operations center, which will finally bring the network into service.

The rest of the work is on the city’s timetable, but City Administrator Brian Yerges advised the council’s Public Works and Utilities Committee last week that it might be time to bring a consultant on board to help the city plan for the rest of the system.

That would be a wise step for the city to take.

The original plan for the fiber-optic system dates back a decade or more and much has changed in that time - both in the capabilities offered by such a system and in the best uses for it.

For instance, while it may be debatable whether it ever did, it probably does not make sense now for the city to try to provide fiber-optic service to the general public.

There is still, however, great value in connecting city and utility facilities - for data sharing, monitoring, networking and more - on the fiber-optic network.

And there are probably other worthwhile uses that can be made of the system which a qualified consultant should be able to recommend to the city so that the fiber-optic network can be put to the maximum use.

One of the possible extensions of the network was to the public school system. But Yerges noted that it would require an expenditure on the part of the school district and how long a payback would take through improved Internet and communications abilities for the district is an unknown - and something else a consultant could quantify.

The fiber-optic network has the potential to do great things for city government and the constituents it serves. But city officials need a road map to tell them where to go to reach that potential - a road map a consultant can provide.

At issue:
City fifiber-optic network
Bottom line:
Consultant can give direction

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