City to utilize university fibers

Huntsville city council voted unanimously to consider the award of a fiber and conduit installation project to Maverick Communications requiring the city’s use of fibers currently allocated to Sam Houston State University.

The issue, which appeared under the consent agenda of Tuesday night’s special session meeting, would also allow for the approval of Ordinance 2015-01 for budget amendment for the same purpose.

“We are essentially replacing a lease line from City Hall to Fire Station One, where, currently, we are using an AT&T line which has a very slow connection,” Huntsville IT Director Chris Vasquez said during Tuesday’s meeting. “We are looking to upgrade that to fiber from Fire Station One about two and a quarter miles to the [Raven’s Nest] clubhouse.”

According to the agenda packet, the purpose of the project is to “ensure the quality of the city utilities, transportation and physical structures so that the city’s core services can be provided in an effective and efficient manner.”

While the current AT&T line used between city hall and the fire station has a maximum capacity of 1.44 Mbps data transmission rates, the 48-strand single mode fiber cable offers 1 Gbps with up to 10 Gbps transmission rates.

Among the eight potential firms who were considered for the job, seven bids were offered. Maverick Communications, Inc. were awarded July 1 with the lowest bid of $37,994.20. Other reasons the company was chosen included that it has “provided excellent service in the past,” “has previously installed fiber at several city facilities” and councilmembers believed that “using the same vendor for both phases of the project will reduce potential problems when transitioning from one phase of the project to another.”

“From the fire station clubhouse, we are going to essentially piggyback onto the Sam Houston fiber network, and we’re going to ride that network all the way out through the county annex, back to the library and then ultimately over the city hall,” Vasquez said. “So they’re going to essentially loan us some of their fibers that we can connect back to the fire station and city hall.”

With the new fiber, the city council hopes to more efficiently and quickly connect to various fire department PCs and devices to run inventory, provide software updates and offer support to the department’s staff. In addition, the completion of the project will also allow for possible expansion to other city facilities in the future.

According to councilmember Joe Rodriguez, without the university’s cooperation, the project could have cost the city much more.

“If the university was not allowing us to tie on at the clubhouse, we would have to run that all the way back to city hall at much greater expenses,” Rodriguez said.

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