Banks, News, utilities

Banks City Council grants Ziply Fiber 10-year franchise

The Banks City Council unanimously approved a new ordinance granting Ziply Fiber a 10-year, non-exclusive franchise agreement to operate their fiber network in the city.

The franchise agreement with the city of Banks allows Kirkland, Wash.-based Northwest Fiber, LLC, which is doing business as Ziply Fiber, to begin offering gigabyte speed internet services in Banks. 

Ziply’s agreement includes a 7 percent franchise fee paid quarterly on gross revenues to be collected by the city of Banks. 

Ziply made a big marketing push when it launched in 2020, announcing plans to invest more than $500 million into rolling out cheap, high-speed internet service in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. A Ziply website says the company’s Oregon footprint now includes “over 90 cities and towns.” 

Ordinance No. 2022-07-01 grants the company access to public right-of-ways on the condition that any Ziply project that requires cutting into a city street first be vetted by the city’s public works permitting process.

Banks City Attorney Dan Kearns told the city council that Verizon possessed the original franchise agreement and had it in place for 10 years. Verizon during that time sold its network to Frontier Cable, and now Ziply purchased and will operate the fiber optic network, offering DSL connections where fiber options are not available. 

Kearns further broke down the agreement for the city council.

“Another thing franchises should do … a franchise agreement is a license for the utilities to use the public right of way with the assumption that they are going to put stuff in the right of way,” Kearns said. “With poles, things overhead, utility lines underneath — it assumes a lot of disruption, cutting, movement, destruction, and patching of sidewalks and streets. This (7 percent) fee is to compensate the city for that, but what this also does is it requires (Ziply) to go through the public works permitting process. If you want to cut into our street you have to get a permit telling us exactly what you’re doing, when, how, and show us the drawings. Like anywhere else, when you work on the street you don’t get a free pass because you have a franchise (agreement).”

Ziply will be required, prior to beginning any work on city streets, to file both a construction and performance bond with the city. The ordinance states that the city will determine the amount of that bond at a later date.

Ziply’s website includes drop-down menus that show where the company is operating in Oregon and providing internet services, but Banks is not included in the list.

A Ziply spokesperson did not return calls to the Banks Post requesting comment.

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