First you get the fiber, then you get the power



A mutual land deal between the city of San Luis Obispo and owners of the Damon-Garcia Ranch will allow SLO to lay the last segment of a fiber optic ring around the city.

In a big step for the city’s communications infrastructure, the San Luis Obispo City Council on Dec. 6 unanimously accepted an easement from the owners of the ranch on the southern edge of SLO.

The easement allows the city to make good on a prior deal with SLO-based web-hosting and data storage firm Digital West Networks, which is running high-speed fiber optic lines through an existing city conduit, forming a fiber optic “ring” around the core of SLO.

In September, the city approved a deal with Digital West to allow the firm access to the city-owned conduit (underground piping used to protect electrical and telecommunication lines) in exchange for certain services, such as data storage and access to their virtual servers to host the city’s websites for a five-year term, according to Tim Williams, president of Digital West.

In order to finish the longstanding communications project, the city worked out a deal with the ranch owners: an easement on the property in exchange for a waiver of planning application fees for a future lot line adjustment, fees worth an approximate $3,000. The city considers this a minor impact compared to the value of the infrastructure.

According to the deed, granting the waiver doesn’t guarantee approval of the application, and the owners will still have to follow all the normal channels.

Closing the fiber loop, so to speak, will allow Digital West greater capabilities for its own network, but getting the fiber lines in the ground would be a good thing for the entire city in the long run, Williams said.

“Accessible fiber cables that are within reach of businesses around SLO City are an infrastructure improvement that will become just as valuable as traditional utilities have been for decades,” Williams said in an e-mail to New Times.

While Digital West doesn’t provide residential services, the expanded network’s capabilities could encourage other companies to do so.

 Williams said crews have begun installing the final segment and will begin affecting actual services for their clients in the coming weeks.

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