Aurora looks to expand fiber optic network downtown

Written by Steve Lord, Aurora Beacon-News. February 26, 2018. Aurora looks to expand fiber optic network downtown

The city of Aurora is looking to expand its fiber optic network further through downtown, thanks to a grant from the downtown tax increment financing district.

Aldermen are set to vote on $75,000 from the downtown TIF to pay for connecting commercial properties to OnLight Aurora. The council will vote at its full meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers, City Hall, 44 E. Downer Place.

The properties to be connected include the new Aurora Arts Center; the Paramount Theatre; North Island Center; businesses along Stolp Avenue; businesses along River Street, between Benton Street and Downer Place; the former West Aurora School District administration building at River and Benton streets; and the Family Counseling Center.

Michael Pegues, Aurora's chief information officer, said hooking those properties onto the fiber network will allow further development and reuse of both vacant and occupied commercial spaces.

OnLight Aurora has received grants before to extend service into areas that are not covered, or in some cases, bringing the network into a building. The last such grant was connecting River Street commercial properties, which is to be finished soon.

Pegues recently told aldermen originally the $75,000 was budgeted to connect the Aurora Arts Center, which is being built in the former Waubonsee Community College building at Stolp and Galena Boulevard.

He said it was cheaper to do the Arts Center than first thought, so "all that other work was done with the $75,000 originally just for the Aurora Arts Center."

OnLight Aurora now has more than 82 miles of fiber optics.

Aldermen also are scheduled to vote on a $275,000 professional services agreement with National Technologies to do the first audit on the fiber network.

Pegues told aldermen they chose National Technologies because they have been the only fiber installation, repair and maintenance company to work on the network since 2015. They not only know the system, they know the coding they have used for wiring.

According to the contract, National Technology would audit all 82 miles, identify and remediate any issues and provide written documentation and photos upon completion.