Last night’s presentation was a good update. BPW gave an update on the Downtown project and then talked about expansion to the rest of the city.
The big barrier to fiber is that the bulk of the cost is up-front. For-profit companies have trouble footing the bill, because it takes too long to turn a profit. That’s why we want our public utility to do it.
BPW proposed “ubiquitous” expansion, meaning they’d run fiber to every house in a neighborhood. That is cheaper and more efficient to build. Installers come to a block one time, not every time someone signs up.
To pay for it, BPW modeled three options:
A group of customers in an area (likely multiple blocks) commit to signing up for service at $85/month. Once enough houses (~23%) have commited, the project gets built. This is very similar to the downtown project, and the same monthly rate.
Like BPW would do with a water line to a new subdivision, assess all properties for the build cost. You’d pay $13/month on your tax bill for 20 years, and $41/month for internet service.
The bottom line: Gigabit service for $54/month!
Rather than special assessment, use a millage to cover the entire city. BPW suggested a 20-year millage of 1.9 mills.
The meeting’s outcome was to move toward a Task Force. Both City Council and the BPW Board were encouraging. They suggested staff should move quickly. Logistically, putting together a Task Force will likely take a couple months. That feels slow, but is fast for government.
For any of these pricing models to work, we need to engage the community. Either to get enough neighbors to sign up, or to support an assessment or millage.
So what do you think? Is there enough interest in the city? Is it politically feasible to do special assessments or a city-wide millage?