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Grover Beach's plans for a fiber-optic network inch forward

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After years of discussion and planning, the Grover Beach City Council unanimously approved a major part of a long-awaited municipal fiber-optic network during its Oct. 6 meeting.

Previously featured in a New Times cover story (“Ready, willing, and cable,” Aug. 21) the high-speed broadband Internet network is slated to be a public-private partnership between Grover Beach, San Luis Obispo County, and Digital West, a SLO-based data storage and web hosting company.

As of the Oct. 6 meeting, the total estimated cost of the project is $927,000—with $500,000 coming from Grover, $268,000 from the county, and $159,000 from Digital West.

When the project is completed, Grover Beach will have a fully operational fiber-optic network (run by Digital West) in its industrial area (down by Farroll Road, between 4th and 13th streets) as well as the entire Grand Avenue corridor. The network will primarily be available to businesses at first, with the potential to expand residentially later on.

At the Oct. 6 meeting, the council voted 4-0 (with Council Member Karen Bright absent) to approve the engineering and design agreement with Digital West. The council opted to defer decisions on the construction management agreement and conduit lease agreement to a later meeting.

“The other two agreements will come back to the council once the fine details are worked out,” Mayor Debbie Peterson told New Times. “The engineering and design agreement was the first step we had to take, so we said, ‘Yeah, let’s take that step.’”

In a previous interview with New Times, Peterson said the fiber-optic network will be “exceptionally fast” and added that it has tremendous potential to attract tech businesses to cash-strapped Grover Beach.

This public-private partnership is set to test the viability of fiber-optic investments (which carry a steep upfront cost) in relatively rural SLO County, a far cry from Silicon Valley.

According to a “marketing plan” from Digital West included in the Oct. 6 staff report, construction of the network is estimated to run from October 2014 to March 2015, with the network coming online in fall 2015.

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