A consumer survey of Miami residents regarding lightning fast fiber optic services is drawing a fair amount of response so far.

MIAMI – A consumer survey of Miami residents regarding lightning fast fiber optic services is drawing a fair amount of response so far.

“It is going good,” according to Miami's Director of Public Utilities Tyler Cline.

The professional survey is being conducted for the City of Miami by ETC Institute at a cost of $18,000 and will be used to determine the level of interest residents have for high-speed fiber services to their homes and businesses.

Fiber optic service companies, such as BOLT Fiber Optic Services, offer ultra-fast services of one gig up and one gig down. Fiber optics provide a significant improvement in service capability versus what is currently available in Miami.

The difference in capacity has been described as the old wire cables offering just a trickle of speed versus fiber optics which delivers a powerful blast of speed.

The purpose of the survey is to entice a fiber optics company to invest in the infrastructure for services to Miami residents and business owners.

According to Miami's Director of Information Technology David Ballard, the advantages of ultra-high speed services are hugely beneficial for the City of Miami.

“On the capability side, one thing that's been highly advantageous to us is the upload and download speeds are equal. Other providers' download speeds are usually far lower in range,” Ballard said. “There is a potential for a lot faster speed on their gigabit side. I'm not sure what Cable One provides for their max download speed. For us what the nice thing is, is the outgoing speed is just as fast as the incoming speed.”

Ballard said this high-speed output allows the City of Miami to live stream council meetings and push out information much faster.

“This allows us, when we're trying to communicate out, to connect with those same speeds that we're getting in,” he said.

Faster more reliable internet, digital High Definition TV, phone and security systems could be available to Miami residents and businesses if a service provider develops such infrastructure here.

The ETC Institute survey was mailed to 1,200 randomly selected Miami residents over a week ago and needs a 40 percent positive interest rate for fiber service companies to want to set up the infrastructure needed, according to Cline.

“They have received 450 back in the mail and 377 online,” Cline said. “ETC is still receiving them. They will go through and validate them before they are officially entered.”

Conventional cable uses metal wire such as copper. The fiber optics are flexible, transparent fibers made of glass or plastic slightly thicker than a hair. These fibers can transmit at higher bandwidths over longer distances than wire cables and are more resistant to signal loss, electromagnetic interference, and offer faster more reliable services.

Equally fast uploading and downloading speeds can be beneficial to residents and businesses, according to Ballard.

“Regardless of the service, it's called asynchronous, that just means that if you have 100 down, you have 100 up if you have a gigabit down you have a gigabit up. Obviously, there are some limitations on the hardware you're using but those speeds are equal, and that's regardless of whether that's business or residential from what I understand,” he said.

City officials began looking into enticing fiber optic service companies to Miami to increase the infrastructure capacity for communications, education, business and economic development.

“We're looking at a number of different ways to use our fiber speed to actually be able to use that single bandwidth outline to do multiple things that we're currently using different things for, like the streaming for example,” Ballard said. “ I think if we were still on an older system with those upload speeds, we'd never try to do the live stream of the City Council and MSUA (Miami Special Utility Authority). If we had a slower speed out, they would be looking at it, and it would be very slow and very hard for them to get it live. To stream that out, we'd run into a lot of problems.”

Ballard said there are other potential uses of the faster fiber optic speed services for the City of Miami that might also be considered in the future.

“Having fiber throughout the city would greatly improve the ability to do some of those things,” Ballard said.

If a high-speed fiber optic service infrastructure and services come to Miami, Ballard believes it will well serve the community's technological needs for many years to come.

“I don't see it as something that would be replaced in the near term. I've been in IT professionally since 1997. I started out up in Kansas City and at the time Sprint was big there, and they had SONET which was basically their fiber optical network, and that was something they were developing in 1997. We're just now seeing the fiber network going out where a lot of major cities have some fiber networks,” Ballard said. “Now there's funding for doing the rural development of fiber networks, it's just now starting to spread out. It used to be almost solely going to universities and very large businesses, and it's just now after 10 to 20 years starting to trickle in to where there's an opportunity where it can also affect residential users.”

Ballard sees residential access to high-speed fiber optic services as a beneficial opportunity for Miami.

“The biggest thing I see as a citizen is, it gives options, because right now the options are sort of limited on what I can choose as a service, " he said. “Right now I'm limited to one or two real services that I can choose from, one of them being cable and the other being a satellite or wireless service and neither one of those can really compare to each other. The way it stands today, those are the only two ways to really get your house connected. I just like the idea that there's a choice – I'd like to have more options.”

The City of Miami is still asking for residents to fill out or take the survey on the City's website.

To fill out a survey Miami residents can use the following links:

City of Miami website: miamiokla.net

Direct link: http://bit.ly/miamifiber