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Build Begins on Santa Fe, N.M.’s First Citywide Fiber Network

After delays in permitting, construction has started on the $50 million Vexus Fiber network. The company and city reached a franchise agreement in March 2022, and installation is expected to be fully completed during the next three years.

(TNS) — Construction on Santa Fe's first citywide fiber-optic network is underway after a series of delays in the permitting process.

Vexus Fiber's $50 million network, expected to be fully installed over the next three years, comes following a franchise agreement between the city and the company in March 2022.

The company's regional vice president, Kevin Folk, told The New Mexican the company in the past two years has run into permitting delays both in the city and with local electric utility Public Service Company of New Mexico that have delayed the company's ability to begin installation of the network in neighborhoods across Santa Fe.

"Following the delays with permitting and working with PNM and the city, we [hope] to get to a point where we are building [for] probably about 1,500 homes a month — that's a target goal," Folk said. "We're going to run into some challenges — especially in the old town area because there's a lot of archaeological rules that we have to follow. ... That's kind of unique for Santa Fe and we understand that because of the history, but we are very careful about how we're methodically working through that."

One delay was for finding a suitable spot for Vexus' fiber hub site, which acts as a central spot for "all the fiber that's spiderwebbed throughout the city," Folk said.

Rich Brown, the outgoing director of the city's Community Development Department, said that delay came after the City Council didn't initially approve a location for Vexus' fiber hub near the midtown redevelopment area, which made the company "start all over again."

"That might be the one of the reasons why that delay happened, because it's a hub they have to build — you have to get more right of way, you have to get more easement access, and I think that's what's pushed it back a little bit because that first location was not approved," Brown said.

The company and city officially agreed on a new spot for the hub near Agua Fría Street and Siler Road, said Terry Lease, asset development manager for the city's Office of Economic Development.

Now, the company is working toward installing the fiber lines themselves in phases throughout the city with a plan to get an estimated 40,000 homes connected. Folk said that construction includes the installation of local connection points and passive cabinets, which homes connect to and which ultimately connect back to Vexus' hub that powers the fiber Internet itself.

Once built, the network will provide Santa Feans with high-speed Internet not limited to slower speeds typically offered by traditional cable and Internet companies. Folk said offerings will include options of up to 5 gigabytes of download speeds. He also said the fiber network is also "future proof," meaning the infrastructure needs to be built just one time, with some minor updates to software in the future.

"The difference with fiber broadband and let's say copper, coax, DSL, [is] you're limited on how much download speeds you can provide," Folk said. "The good thing about fiber is ... this is symmetrical speed."

©2024 The Santa Fe New Mexican, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.