PALMDALE –The Palmdale City Council heard a proposal Wednesday night that could make Palmdale a 5-G fiber city that would offer residents, schools, and businesses a new level of internet connectivity while helping to close the technological digital divide.
The proposed plan calls for a partnership with SiFi Networks for the installation of a fiber optic network for residential and commercial gig speed internet. When implemented, it would not only improve the connectivity of City residents and businesses, but will also help bridge the digital divide, the gap that exists between individuals who have access to modern information and communication technology and those who lack it.
SiFi Networks is looking to invest approximately $160 million in Palmdale to deploy 800 miles of fiber throughout the City. Once completed, essentially every home and every business in Palmdale will have access to high speed internet. Currently only about 5 percent of homes and 30 percent of businesses in Palmdale have that level of connectivity.
If the project is approved, it will take approximately one year to plan and two years of construction to deploy throughout the entire city. During the process, once fiber has been installed in a neighborhood, the services will be made available there.
“Our staff did an outstanding job of identifying a need and coming up with a viable solution,” said Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, it became clear, especially as people were relying on Zoom and other programs for meetings and our schools were doing distance learning that it was necessary to have the best technologies available. This innovative project is a huge step in that direction.”
To help provide the necessary funding, the city has collaborated with the Palmdale School District, Westside School District, and Antelope Valley Unified School District to combine resources and apply for grant funding.
“This partnership has great promise in closing the digital divide that we are currently facing,” said Palmdale School District Raul Maldonado. “This is the kind of resource that will provide our youth with the tools they need to thrive and succeed in their educational endeavors now and into their futures.”
“The Westside Union School District is pleased to be able to collaborate with the city of Palmdale in an effort to bring greater access to reliable internet services to our families,” said Westside Superintendent Regina Rossall. “We look forward to being involved in this community-wide initiative.”
“The Antelope Valley Union High School District takes pride in being on the leading edge of providing technology-rich learning environments and experiences for our students and learning communities,” said AVUHSD Superintendent David J. Vierra. “We are excited at the opportunity to partner with the City of Palmdale in bringing citywide fiber optic and wireless networking to the entire community. This access has the potential to further level the playing field and narrow the digital divide for our students.”
“As we continue to work though the circumstances presented to us by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that we don’t lose sight of the future and our need to be an innovative, forward thinking community,” said Palmdale City Manager J.J. Murphy. “This is a great example of how collaboration can work to have a very powerful positive impact on a community. Furthermore, this project goes a long way in helping us transition to a ‘smart city’ where we can put technology to greater use as we build a better tomorrow by establishing Palmdale as a technology leader in the region. Access to highspeed broadband presents a unique economic development benefit to our businesses, providing the ability to stay competitive and communicate with customers and internal and external supply chains.”
The Palmdale City Council will vote on a final proposal in December.
[Information via news release from the city of Palmdale.]