The expected launch date of Hillsboro's new city-owned high-speed internet service, HiLight, has been delayed.
On Monday, Feb. 10, Patrick Preston, spokesman for the city, said work on the project will take longer than the previous timeline.
The city initially planned to begin rolling out the service in selected neighborhoods in 2019 as it constructed fiber-optic cables.
The city pushed the expected launch date back to early 2020 after it created a partnership with the Hillsboro School District in 2018. In exchange for a $12.6 million investment from the district's 2017 bond, the city agreed to connect all Hillsboro schools to high-speed internet first. The service launched at eight Hillsboro schools on Wednesday, Feb. 5.
Officials have said residents in South Hillsboro and the Shute Park area will be the first to receive high-speed internet from the city. The city still expects residents in those two areas to be able to buy the service in 2020, but officials don't currently have an exact launch date.
"A few elements have helped to shape the timing and led staff to conclude it would take longer than the winter timeframe to launch the service," Preston said in an email. "The partnership with the Hillsboro School District was a timely priority for the city and for HiLight, so it shifted some attention and resources toward that ongoing project, and the work to connect schools continues."
In 2019, the city's website stated that the service would be available in two selected areas "this winter." On Monday, the city revised it's website, stating that the service would be available later this year, after receiving questions about the change from the News-Times.
Preston said the city still needs to construct two fiber huts — centralized structures that house fiber-optic infrastructure — to make the service available to residents in the first two areas of the city. Construction on the fiber huts is "getting close," Preston said.
One fiber hut will be located at Shute Park behind the existing stage, he said. It will contain a new greenroom that can be used by performers at the stage and during park events.
Another fiber hut will be contained in a pre-fabricated structure located on a city-owned tract in the Meadow Oaks neighborhood.
Preston said both structures will include small utility courtyards for emergency generators and air conditioning units. One other location was considered for a fiber hut, he said.
It will take about 10 years before the city builds out the fiber-optic network entirely, making high-speed internet available to all residents.
When it's fully constructed, HiLight will offer people one-gigabit internet at the most affordable rates in the city, officials say. The city will also offer residents who qualify for federal low-income assistance programs to purchase one-gigabit internet for as low as $10 per month.
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