Upper Arlington officials this week paved the way for a $2.5-million project to build a fiber-optic network that will provide broadband access to city, school and library buildings, while also creating opportunities to market those services commercially.

Upper Arlington officials this week paved the way for a $2.5-million project to build a fiber-optic network that will provide broadband access to city, school and library buildings, while also creating opportunities to market those services commercially.

Upper Arlington City Council voted 6-0 Monday, Oct. 26, to approve nine ordinances tied to the construction and maintenance of a 30-mile fiber network that will reach 40 locations throughout the city.

Once built, the network is expected to provide high-speed Internet services to all municipal buildings and most public parks in the city, as well as Upper Arlington schools and the Upper Arlington Public Library.

According to city officials, the project will allow for better communications among each entity's facilities, and is expected to save the city about $1,280 a month for Internet service.

Additionally, the project will allow the city, through a third party, to lease some of the network's 288 fiber strands to commercial companies.

Among the legislation passed Oct. 26 were funding agreements that call for Upper Arlington schools to contribute $177,900 annually for nine years to help pay off the project.

Other ordinances approved Oct. 26 were for a contract of up to $1.42 million with Thayer Power and Communications Co. LLC to build and maintain the network; the purchase of $772,308 worth of network equipment from Ronco Communications & Electronics Inc.; and up to $55,000 in consulting services from Alta1.

The city would pay $68,484 each year over that nine-year period and the library would contribute $17,616.

"This is a demonstration of shared services, cooperation," City Manager Ted Staton said. "We bring the school system, the library and the city together to bring broadband to our buildings."

The agreement gives each of the three partners the right to use the fiber network for the initial nine-year repayment period, and they would be offered three extensions of five years each.

The city already has been awarded a $500,000 state grant to pay for a portion of the network's construction, which would reduce the overall cost of the project by 20 percent, Assistant City Manager Dan Ralley said during an Oct. 19 council conference session.

The city also will receive a $1 million loan through a Franklin County Infrastructure Loan Program. The loan will come with a 1.75-percent interest rate and will be paid back over 10 years.

"This is, I think, wonderful news for the city," council Vice President Debbie Johnson said. "I think we're a little behind schedule on it, but I'm happy we're moving forward."

Officials haven't indicated when network construction would be completed, but Ralley has said the school district would be connected to it first, and that could occur as soon as next year.

"The city of Upper Arlington, the Upper Arlington schools and the Upper Arlington library all currently lease broadband lines from telecom providers to connect their various facilities at a combined annual expense of $264,000," Ralley stated in a staff report to council. "These lease charges are in addition to, and separate from, bandwidth expenses for Internet access that each entity also incurs.

"The construction of city-owned fiber-optic lines connecting all city, school and library locations within Upper Arlington will provide cost savings to each entity by eliminating the long-term expense of leasing private broadband lines," the report said. "After the initial fiber construction costs are recouped, with each entity paying an annual amount equaling their current annual broadband lease expenses, each organization will achieve cost savings for broadband access through the continued use of the Community Fiber Network."