View original article at the Houston Herald.
A City of Houston fiber-to-the-home internet project is the most ambitious utility effort in modern Houston history. When completed, homes and businesses will have access to speeds that rival that of metropolitan areas.
Randon Brown, technology director for the City of Houston, provides answers to frequently asked questions.
Question: Why does it take so long to get fiber to my home/business?
Answer: This question becomes very complex once you figure in what it takes to get fiber to your home/business. The city has a structured process from beginning to end which involves many steps from administrative processes such as billing and account setup, programming, splicing at the dome (on utility poles), mounting a box to contain the fiber slack, running wire from the box to the desired location for the fiber equipment in the home, and placing the router in its final spot. Business/commercial setups take an extended amount of time due to the programming complexities which can take up to a month or longer depending on customer needs. It is critical that the programming is set up correctly to ensure a smooth transition to city fiber services. We assure you that the wait will be worth it. We believe that the quality of the internet services we provide speaks for itself.
Question: Will customers in PON 3 South be brought online before PON 3 North customers?
Answer: Unfortunately, no. We want to ensure that both North and South phases are brought online at the same time. The reasoning behind this is that both phases use the same PON cabinet and distribution lines. We wouldn’t want to risk customers losing internet services while the construction process is under way for this area. There are a lot of businesses that depend on the internet to conduct business operations. Careful planning is key to ensure that the final two phases are a success. Our goal is to ensure a quality product that is stable and efficient with minimal downtime.
Question: How many customers are currently hooked up?
Answer: The City of Houston Fiber Department has currently hooked up 130 households/businesses. Another 215 total customers are interested in services. The system is designed to service over 1,200+ customers.
Question: What is the orange tubing in the ground?
Answer: The orange tubing is known as a “micro duct.” It is used for containing buried fiber cable. This tubing allows city electric crews to run fiber through the duct to service your home/business. If you see excess amounts sticking out of the ground, please do not damage it. Trenching crews will get to you as soon as they can to fully bury the cable. The tubing and fiber materials are very expensive. Tampering with the city utilities is a crime.
Question: What are the black spherical tubes taped to the utility pole/on the ground?
Answer: These black spherical tubes are known as “dome enclosures.” They contain the main fiber that allows crews to service your home. With lawn mowing season around the corner, we ask that you please use caution when operating lawn mowers and equipment around the dome enclosures. Damaged enclosures/fiber can cost thousands of dollars to fix depending on the extent of the damage. As mentioned in the previous answer, tampering with city utilities is a crime. Our hopes are to have them hung within the coming weeks once quality assurance tests are completed by our splicing crews.
Question: I signed up weeks/months ago. Why do I still not have fiber internet?
Answer: We understand that we have a lot of customers excited to receive fiber services. Since our electric crews run the fiber to the home, this can take extra time depending on their workloads. It is important to remember that their first priority is to keep the lights on and to deliver safe electrical services to the residents and businesses of Houston. Electric crews will get to you when they are able to. Crews will make contact with you to schedule your installation.
Question: What is left to be completed for construction?
Answer: All areas south of Highway 17 (PON 3) are still needing to be completed. There is a lot of buried/trenching work to be finished in this section which takes a lot of extra time due to the digging permit process that has to be followed. A placeholder date of Feb. 28, has been set for the next phase to begin, as long as supply chain delays do not cause any hang-ups. Currently, the city is waiting on some mandatory hardware which will take several weeks to arrive due to supply chain issues beyond our control.
Question: What happens when I have a problem with my fiber internet?
Answer: We have in-house fiber technicians, programmers, and off-site engineers on stand-by. Most issues can be resolved within 24 hours. We aim to set ourselves apart from the competition by providing friendly faces and excellent customer service.
Question: Where can I find more information regarding fiber internet?
Answer: Our main page for fiber sign ups, pricing, procedures, and more is located at https://houstonmo.org/fiber. We have a detailed frequently asked questions page that answers commonly asked questions located at https://houstonmo.org/fiber-faq. You can also contact the City of Houston Fiber Department by emailing email@example.com for technical support questions or firstname.lastname@example.org for billing related questions.