RSF Town Hall Meeting draws crowd

RANCHO SANTA FE — Covenant residents wanting to learn more about RSF Connect, a fiber-optic network which will bring fast high-speed internet to the Rancho Santa Fe, attended a Sept. 14 Town Hall Meeting at the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club. RSF Association President Fred Wasserman greeted members and shared how delighted he was with the high attendance.

The cost to build and own RSF Connect is $13 million to $14 million. It will provide high-speed 1-Gigabit-per-second internet service to every house in the Covenant.

As this would be a community investment, residents were encouraged to attend to help in their decision-making process.

A project to bring dependable internet service to the Covenant has been in the works for many years, Wasserman said.

The goal of the Town Hall meeting was to explain RSF Connect and the community vote on the project. The RSF Association mailed off ballots on Sept. 11 that are due back to the Association on Oct. 4.

Every household will receive one vote. If a Covenant member did not get a ballot, Wasserman asked them to please contact the Association.

A tabulated count is scheduled for Oct. 5, which lands on the next RSF Association board meeting. Wasserman was hopeful that they would receive 1,000 ballots in return. The votes cast will be the decision the board will follow regarding moving forward with RSF Connect.

“This is a project that is very important to this community,” Wasserman said.

Wasserman went on to say that the Ranch needs a reliable internet service. RSF Connect will provide high-speed 1-Gigabit-per-second internet service to Covenant residents.

“We need it (internet service) like a utility,” Wasserman said.

According to Wasserman, a need for reliable internet service was recognized in 2011. Poor connection gave members, including those working from home and children needing to do homework, a serious challenge. 

“Our members are demanding this service,” he said. “This is essential to us.”

Wasserman also pointed out how unreliable internet invariably affected property values, as well.

For the last two years, members of the Technology Committee met twice a week to come up with a solution. Wasserman wanted members to know that the decision to move forward with RSF Connect was not made casually. 

“They (Technology Committee) has done their due diligence,” he said. “And rates will be competitive.”

Next up was RSF Association Manager Bob Hall. He explained that fiber was the network of choice because it is reliable and an investment for the next 50 years into the future.

“Once you put it (fiber) into the ground, there’s not a lot of maintenance required. It’s rugged and weatherproof,” said Hall, adding that it is environmentally friendly.

Hall went on to say the fiber installation would be underground. This addressed numerous concerns about adding to existing utility poles. The roads would be trench cut 24 inches, and the fiber strands placed.

“RSF Connect will hire an ISP (internet service provider) which will be your customer interface,” he said.

Covenant members would independently decide if they wanted to run the fiber at their curb to their home. The ISP would be responsible for this. In addition to internet service, members would also have the option to include a bundle package of television and telephone service.

Hall explained that internet service would range from $100 to $135 per month.

Hall said that Henkels & McCoy completed the engineering of RSF Connect. He described them as one of the best teams in the country to provide a design. And San Diego County has approved the concept of the project.

At this point, an ISP has not been chosen, but Hall suspects they will have one in November.

RSF Connect will cost $13 to $14 million. Hall said that $8 million would be drawn from the Covenant Enhancement Fund while the remainder would be a bank loan with the intent to pay it off in 10 years.

Hall was quick to say that the financing strategy will not affect member assessments.

“There will be no new or special assessments,” he said.

If the community decides that they want RSF Connect, Hall said they would submit plans to the county in October. It will undergo a 90-day permitting process.

Construction of RSF Connect would likely start in the first quarter of 2018 and would take 18 to 24 months to complete.

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