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Where every new home comes with lightning-fast fiber-optic cable

Where every new home comes with lightning-fast fiber-optic cable
Workers clean sidewalks at Ontario Ranch’s New Haven community, which is planned to have 1-gigabit-per-second Internet speeds, about three times faster than premium high-speed service. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

When home buyers move into the Park Place development in Ontario they will be able to download a movie in less than six seconds and a photo in the blink of an eye.

And they won't have to search for an Internet provider to wire their homes with fiber-optic cable. It's being built right into the project.

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The 1,200-home subdivision, part of the Ontario Ranch master planned community, is on the leading edge of a technology wave sweeping new home developments nationwide, as builders look to make supercharged Internet service as common as a pool or greenbelt.

The high-speed Internet initiative was unveiled Thursday by city officials and developers, with the eventual goal of hard-wiring the entire 47,000-home Ontario Ranch at speeds of 1 gigabit per second. That's about three times faster than premium high-speed Internet services available from providers such as AT&T.

Park Place, being built by the Lewis Group and Stratham Communities, will be the first neighborhood to receive the gigabit service. The plan is to roll out the service to two other communities by early next year.

Ontario Ranch developers are paying for the fiber network infrastructure, while residents will fork over a monthly subscription fee or pay through their homeowner association dues. The gigabit service will cost about $60 at Park Place.

The announcement comes as cities, developers and companies such as Google look to offer super-fast Internet speeds to satisfy the insatiable demand for online video streaming and other high-bandwidth applications.

Mike Powers, chief executive of Greenfield Communications Inc., said placing fiber all the way into home outlets is becoming essential for developers.

The Dana Point company works with developers and authorities to construct and manage fiber networks. Fiber falls among several considerations becoming important today, including solar panels, Internet-connected energy and irrigation systems and less-resource-intensive landscaping, Powers said.

"The developer that doesn't do this is going to take a hit. What we've seen is that every developer has to address this issue. They can't do it the way they've always done it. You can't have a family move in and not be able to get their five movies downloaded at the same time," he said.

Only about 175,000 U.S. customers have gigabit service, according to the market research firm RVA. And there are only about 10 new-home communities nationwide that have built-in gigabit services, said Tom Reiman, president of the Broadband Group, a consulting firm that is helping Ontario roll out the supercharged Internet.

But options are growing because developers think they can get more for their homes. Michael Render at RVA said people are willing to spend more for homes equipped with fiber, about $3,500 on a $200,000 home, or about 1.8%.

The frenzy over fast Internet kicked off in 2010 when Google launched a program to install fiber-optic networks in communities across the nation to meet strong demand, including Kansas City, Mo., and Austin, Texas. Last week, Google announced that it wants to expand its ultra-fast Internet service to San Diego, Irvine and Louisville, Ky.

Meanwhile, Internet providers have stepped up their own offerings. For example, residents at the master-planned Rancho Mission Viejo's upcoming Esencia community will be able to receive gigabit service through Cox Communications.

Ontario Ranch, formerly called the New Model Colony, is set to rise on 8,200 acres of former dairy lands off Interstate 15. It was planned prior to the recession and is scheduled to be built out over about 20 years and eventually have 162,000 residents.

But the housing crash stalled the project and fewer than 800 homes have been built. Now construction is on the upswing as developers bet that the once-decimated Inland Empire housing market is strong enough to support thousands of new homes.

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This weekend, another developer building homes in the Ontario Ranch project, Brookfield Residential, will hold a grand opening for its New Haven community. The developer hopes to have the gigabit service from Vallejo-based Inyo Networks ready when the first home buyers move in by early next year, said Dave Bartlett, vice president of Brookfield Residential.

Randall Lewis, the principal of the Lewis Group, said super high-speed Internet capabilities help sell houses. After sales started sluggishly for Park Place, Lewis said he expects business to pick up when his community becomes the first to get the gigabit service in mid-October.

"We are hearing more and more from customers that they want to live somewhere with all the high-tech capabilities," he said.

Twitter: @khouriandrew

Times staff writer Paresh Dave contributed to this report.

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