The Port of Skagit approved Monday a lease for space on a fiber optic channel running along the Interstate 5 corridor and an operating agreement to provide internet service on that space. The moves made by the port commissioners are part of a plan to deliver high-speed internet access countywide and reduce prices for internet service.
The $1.7 million, 10-year lease for space from fiber channel owner TCX Net will be managed by SkagitNet, the joint port and Skagit Public Utility District company formed last month to connect existing networks and extend fiber optic access to rural and east county communities such as Lyman and Hamilton.
The purchase will plug SkagitNet into an existing fiber optic system along I-5, said Sara Young, director of planning and facilities at the port.
“We’re essentially buying space on that fiber then hiring ServedBy The Net to provide service on it,” Young said.
The port’s agreement with ServedBy The Net allows the company to provide internet directly to customers or for other providers to buy in, Young said, potentially reducing the price for internet service.
“We hope to increase competition in the valley,” Young said. “It gives the community more certainty and security long term. A lot of communities are really reliant on a monopoly or a sole provider that hasn’t always served those communities well.”
The Skagit County Community Fiber Optic Network Strategic Plan — written in March 2017 by the port, the Economic Development Alliance of Skagit County and other local organizations — consists of six fiber optic segments between Anacortes and Concrete that will deliver high-speed internet access countywide.
“I see (the lease and operating agreement) as the first part of that,” port Commissioner Kevin Ware said.
SkagitNet will be an open access network, meaning any internet provider that wants to lease space on the network can do so, Young said.
The port hopes to have the new connection operating by the end of 2018, Young said, and to have SkagitNet in its entirety running by January 2019.