Saratoga Springs city officials and SiFi Networks celebrated the official groundbreaking of the Saratoga Springs FiberCity project on Oct. 25, a fiberoptic network being built citywide to improve digital connectivity in the city.
Once complete, the $32 million venture, being funded privately, will see high-speed fiber infrastructure available to every household, business, and institution within city limits, officials said.
Work to construct the network began earlier this year with the first homes scheduled to go-live in the fall of 2023. The entire city is slated for completion in 2024. Officials also announced that the internet service provider GigabitNow has signed on to be first provider on the network, offering speeds up to 10 Gigabits per second—among the fastest internet speeds in the United States, according to SiFi.
“This is a once-in-a-generation infrastructure project that will usher in a new era of high-speed connectivity, digital inclusion, digital readiness, and new opportunities to expand and innovate in our local economy,” said Jason Golub, city commissioner of Public Works.
Unlike a typical fiber network, the FiberCity is being built as an open access network, meaning that with one connection, residents and businesses can access multiple service providers for high-speed internet service, Smart City applications, telehealth, streaming video, voice, and other uses, officials said. On an open access network, service providers compete for customers based on service, price, and reliability, essentially disrupting the decades-old monopoly or duopoly model that phone companies and internet providers have long enjoyed.
“Once complete, our residents and businesses will benefit from competition,” said Golub.
Officials said one key element of Saratoga Springs’ FiberCity network is that it is being made available to every address—business, residential, and institution—within the city. This includes low-income housing units that are typically passed over by internet service providers.
“We’re excited to partner with the city and celebrate full-scale construction of the Saratoga Springs FiberCity. We believe that everyone in the community deserves access to high-speed fiber infrastructure—connecting the community to each other and the world around us—at speeds never experienced before in New York,” said Robert Heaps, corporate vice president of SiFi Networks.
Todd Shimkus, president and CEO of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, said that the Saratoga Springs FiberCity network will usher in the next chapter in the city’s economy.
“It’s now estimated that one-third of the workforce works remotely, at least part of the week. Having the FiberCity® in Saratoga Springs is a game changer for economic development and will also help the region attract large employers and technology companies,” said Shimkus.
“Our hotels have been vying for better connectivity for years. Full fiberoptic connectivity will enhance the visitor experience and enable our hospitality sector to do so much more for customers,” said Darryl Leggieri, president of Discover Saratoga.
“Before moving to Saratoga Springs, I ran an event space in New York City,” said Ryan McMahon, executive director of Saratoga Springs City Center. “When we installed fiber, it enabled us to do so much more. Conferences and events move an enormous amount of data and the City Center is already working with SiFi Networks to plan additional fiber connections to our convention space, our offices, and the parking garage, which will now be able to utilize Smart City services like parking apps,”
According to GigabitNow, Saratoga Springs residents and businesses can pre-register for service now online for free. GigabitNow will offer a variety of symmetrical (equal upload and download speeds) plans ranging from 350 Mbps up to 10 Gbps. The company said residents should be aware that current internet providers may flood mailboxes with offers that may seem too good to be true now that a true fiber to the home provider is entering the market.
“They’ll only advertise the download speeds, but not the upload speeds. They also can’t match the speed, service, and reliability that comes from a fiber connection,” said Steve Milton, CEO, GigabitNow. “We’re enormously proud to become part of the Saratoga Springs community and look forward to providing outstanding service to the community.”
Those interested in learning more about GigabitNow service can visit www.gigabitnow.com/saratoga-springs
Full-scale construction on FiberCity will continue until around Thanksgiving when underground work will be paused for the winter. Crews will resume work in the spring and the first customers on the network will go-live next fall.
Founded in 2013, SiFi Networks privately funds, builds and operates citywide, open-access, Smart City enabled fiber networks across the United States. SiFi is currently working alongside its delivery partners with more than 40 cities, covering over 1.5 million homes and businesses and has over 100 cities interested in becoming a FiberCity, the company said. SiFI’s open Access business model allows multiple internet service providers and other providers to deliver various services and offerings on its network.
For further information, visit www.sifinetworks.com.