Aug. 24--Mayor Javier Gonzales teamed up Tuesday with CenturyLink to announce the completion of a project designed to deliver high-speed internet service at 32 city-owned sites, some of which are frequently used by the public, including City Hall, Municipal Court and the airport.
For city government, the installation of 6.5 miles of fiber-optic cable and higher speeds are supposed to translate into improved efficiency. For ordinary citizens, it means faster internet speeds at the main and branch libraries and other government buildings, and the ability to conduct more city business online.
"Being a government, a true digital government, requires some basic infrastructure investments, and fiber is one of those areas that we have to make sure we invest in [in the] quest to becoming a digital government," Gonzales said during a news conference in the Santa Fe Municipal Airport as a steady stream of travelers zipped by and the airport announcer spoke over some of the dignitaries.
"I would apologize for all the noise and the activity, but I'm not going to because that's commerce and it's travel, and it's really important to our community," joked Cameron "Cam" Humphres, the city's airport manager.
Renée Martínez, director of the city's Information Technology and Telecommunications Department, said the $500,000 project to upgrade internet service was funded by CenturyLink. "It was their investment," she said.
Martínez also said high-speed internet to the airport and other "very important work sites" represents a "big milestone in a larger project."
"This is an investment that's very important to a very significant modernization initiative that the city has underway," she said. "In the next two or three years, the city will be replacing most of its larger information systems, including our financial, our human resources, permitting [and] inspection. What it will allow us to do is connect citizens to city services in a way we've never been able to."
Phase 2 of expanding high-speed broadband internet service will focus on downtown, Martínez said.
Gonzales said "fiber is huge" to growing Santa Fe's economy. The city held the news conference at the airport to illustrate that it is investing in areas "that will help us grow our economy," the mayor said.
"The two priorities when it comes to infrastructure of growing the economy at the city is broadband fiber technology as well as this airport," he said. "What we see now is the benefit of a completed renovation that will allow for more flights to come into the city."
Gonzales noted that the city had recently received a $500,000 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to expand air service, bringing more visitors and economic activity to Santa Fe.
"We're in the process of pulling together all the money so we can expand air service, in particular to the West Coast," he said.
Gonzales also pointed to an industrial park east of the airport that can serve as a location for businesses, especially those on the supply side.
"A key part of those businesses being successful is access to fiber and having the ability to access the internet as quickly as they could as if they were at any other major airport across the country," Gonzales said.
The mayor and CenturyLink officials touted their ability to work together to get the project off the ground.
"When we look at bringing broadband to one location or to another, it's often difficult economically to do that," said Larry North, CenturyLink's vice president of operations. "When you look at over 32 sites and what's in aggregate almost six and half miles of fiber built to make this deal with the city work, it really does create a really big benefit for the city at large."
Jeff Lindsey, CenturyLink's regional vice president for public policy, said the company has invested more than $12 million in the Santa Fe area in the last four years.
"It shows our commitment, and that will certainly continue," he said.
Contact Daniel J. Chacón at 505-986-3089 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @danieljchacon.
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