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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Explore arrival of fiber-optic technology

What is fiber-optic technology? Is it faster than dial-up, cable and DSL?

How can it improve your home? Your business? St. Albans' economic future?
Following the launch of a recent survey, the City of St. Albans and St. Albans for the Future (SAFF) will present a fiber-optic technology forum Tuesday, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., at city hall.
City officials and members of St. Albans Digital, a SAFF subcommittee, will join technology consultants Larry Lackey and Sam Osborne in giving a primer in fiber-optic technology, and how St. Albans could reap benefits from it.
The phone survey, which ran from the middle to end of September, was St. Albans Digital's first step in a feasibility study that is funded through a $23,500 grant from the Vermont Community Development Program.
Lackey, of Stowe, and Osborne, of Osborne Associates in Burlington, were hired to assist with the survey. They recommended the phone survey.
The state grant also will help conduct a market-share analysis for a fiber-optic network, which, if it becomes reality, could reach every city home and business and foster economic development.
The grant will also help explore a potential partnership with Burlington Telecom, the City of Burlington's telecommunications network, which provides the only fiber-optic infrastructure in Vermont that connects directly to homes - also known as "the last mile."
St. Albans Digital has formed a negotiating team to deal with Burlington Telecom, and the city's mayors have exchanged letters of interest in exploring a partnership.
Presently, city residents have five Internet service options: dial-up, DSL (through phone wires), cable modems, wireless and satellite (which are fast but require pricy subscriptions).
Fiber optic service carries information over glass fibers instead of copper wire, thus eliminating the drag or lag time in real-time events that is sometimes found with a direct service or cable link.
More information can travel over fiber optics than copper, and at a much faster rate. Also, fiber optics is cheaper, because sand - the raw material in glass - costs far less than copper.
St. Albans Digital formed in spring 2006 from a class project and subsequent creative economy efforts that began under the auspices of the Franklin-Grand Isle L.E.A.D. Program.
L.E.A.D. is a United Way project in partnership with others in the two-county area that helps groom civic leaders for the future.
The forum on Tuesday is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided.

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