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Fiber optic plan gets thumbs up

The city of Austin is looking to solve some Internet woes within its Municipal Building, park and recreation offices and the fire station by installing fiber optic lines. The idea was discussed at an Austin City Council work session Monday.

Council members will take action on the issue at their July 18 meeting, but they agreed that administrative services director Tom Dankert could start the ball rolling.

"I think we should install the fiber and get moving on that," councilor Judy Enright said.

The city had been considering options to increase Internet speed and improve access to city servers. Currently, the fire department has no high-speed Internet access and is functioning on dial-up modems, said Dankert.

"They're struggling. They're having some issues," Dankert said.

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He presented a plan to install fiber optic lines from the Municipal Building down Fourth Avenue Northeast to the Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry, then south on First Street Northeast to Austin Fire Department. The lines would connect the two buildings to the main server in city hall and eliminate two telephone modems.

The fiber optic project would cost an estimated $10,000 to $20,000 and would end an estimated $250 of monthly phone charges and future modem replacements.

"It's a long-term fix for us," Dankert said.

Along with the park and rec offices and the fire department, the fiber line would run near Austin Public Library, providing a possible connection.

City staff considered other options, including going wireless, using DSL, installing a T1 line and using Charter Communications cable. The fiber optic line was determined to be the best option when it came to speed and reliability.

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