By Dave Clark
On Feb. 6, the City Council voted to spend $2.5 million to get a “build ready” design for a public municipal broadband service in the city of Loveland and additional measures for this process. I voted no on each of those measures. Did I vote no because I am against broadband service in Loveland? Am I a supporter of Comcast and want to make sure they have no competition? Am I against “progress” in the future? The critics will answer yes. Well, they are wrong. Below is a list of my concerns and questions.
One of my biggest concerns is the lack of information we have received. Again, the critics will argue that the City Council has had 16 or more meetings to review this issue. While that is true, the real issue is the lack of information on all of the options available to the city, not just the option of a municipal broadband service. They say they have done their due diligence; I say the information presented has been fairly one-sided. To counter that, some of us on council (namely, Councilors Overcash, Olson, Jersvig and myself) finally requested a special meeting be held where the other side could be heard. So, on Jan 30, there were six private companies that presented to council their proposals for city broadband services — either to expand/improve existing services or provide new.
It was very informative. Here are just a few of the options we heard:
•Full service broadband service: Rates at $55/month for 100 MB and $80/month for 1 GB.
•Full service broadband service: The company would fund the entire cost of the project. Competitive rates. They would include an option for “automated service provisioning” so customers could switch internet providers with the click of a mouse from their home.
•Two existing providers (Comcast and Century Link) stated their commitment for better and faster service to the city.
These options obviously come with a price and many questions. What is the price? What is the risk? We do not know. We have not been shown the details of the proposals provided by these and other private companies submitted a few months ago for confidentiality reasons. So, I ask the question: How can I as a City Council member make an intelligent decision on a project that could cost up to $100 million without knowing all the options and details?