Emmett is continuing to add fiber optic cabling to its city-owned network, and is starting to foresee the time when all city offices and resources are hooked up.
At that point, the city can start thinking about how to provide broadband internet services to businesses, said Mike Knittel, systems administrator. Once the fiber optic cabling is extended into the community, the city will be able to use the technology to recruit tech businesses.
Fiber optic cable can support much faster internet than can other types of connections. Idaho, particularly in its rural areas, currently ranks close to the bottom of the U.S. in terms of internet speed.
Now in its third year of installing fiber optic cabling, the city of less than 10,000 continues to serve as a model to others. Funding comes from a combination of city funds and grants, Knittel said.
In the meantime, the city is taking advantage of the bandwidth by providing new city services, such as mapping all the graves in the city-owned cemetery and providing online access to them, allowing people who are coming to visit departed loved ones to find them more easily.
In another example, Emmett’s city park, the home of the city’s famous cherry festival, offers free wifi.
One advantage the city has had is an informal “dig once” policy that installs cabling in conduit whenever a street is opened up for road restoration or water main repair.