Phoenix: a conduit for telecom

Phoenix will soon lead the charge to create a 32-mile fiber-optic loop to

expand service for telecommunications providers and enhance economic development.

Two city departments — Community and Economic Development and Engineering

and Architectural Services — will develop legal agreements with four telecom

providers that have agreed to help fund the $13.6 million project along

the Interstate 17 corridor in north central Phoenix.

The providers — McLeodUSA Inc., Adelphia Communications, AmeriCom and

XO Communications Inc. — intend to buy 11 conduits out of the planned 16-conduit

trench, said Patrick Grady, director of the Community and Economic Development

Department.

The companies would pay 50 percent of the costs before the start of

construction and 50 percent after completion. Grady said the city would

issue a request for proposals and submit final bids to the city council

by late August or early September. He said the city also would explore building

a 24-conduit trench. The project is estimated to take 12 to 18 months to

complete.

Some providers were concerned about the city leasing conduits, thereby

entering the telecom business. But Grady said the city would sell the remaining

conduits to telecom companies.

"We're providing a focal point to enable telecom providers to come together,

reduce their costs and thereby enhance both capacity and service," he said.

"We're simply — pardon the pun — the conduit, the facilitator for making

this happen."

Although Grady said Phoenix ranks among the top 20 U.S. regions for

number of tech firms, his department will expand to focus on retaining and

attracting technology firms.

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