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Sunnyside readies for fiber optic opportunities

Discussion about the city of Sunnyside's decision to be included in the ongoing installation of the county's fiber optic line continued at a meeting held yesterday (Tuesday). Representatives from Sunnyside Community Hospital, the Port of Sunnyside, Sunnyside School District and the City of Sunnyside met to learn about options and opportunities regarding connection to the line.

George Helton, Director of Technology Services for Yakima County, led the meeting by informing those gathered that he needs to know how many local government or government connected agencies are interested in being included on this fiber optic line.

When work crews move through Sunnyside as they bring the fiber line in, Helton revealed he needs to know where to "drop a loop" so that the line can be connected to a building. Dropping the loop during these early stages can save organizations thousands of dollars.

The city of Sunnyside has already committed to the plan and the hook-up to municipal sites is already paid for. But there was some concern that other government related agencies that are eligible to be included in the line might miss this opportunity.

It was decided by the group that they would come up with a list of potential agencies that might be interested, though there is cost associated with joining the connection. Organizations will have to pay for the crews to connect to their building and there will be pole fees. Exact prices, however, will vary.

City Councilman Don Vlieger expressed concern that county commissioners might suddenly decide to charge heavy fees for those who are connected to the line.

Helton replied that he cannot give any solid reassurances that this might not happen at some point, but that it is in every person's right to disconnect from the line in the future if they are dissatisfied. He added that he did not believe the current county commissioners would do this.

But being connected to the county network through the fiber optic line is more than just getting high speed connectivity, Helton revealed. There are many benefits, including access to an extremely secure data center that has a separate generator to keep it running if the main power source is disrupted.

In addition, the fiber optic line connects the phone systems and will allow those local organizations connected to the line to make phone calls to other connected agencies throughout the county without being charged long distance fees.

Other benefits included virus and spam protection, e-mail, security tracking, video conferencing and storage back-up.

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