Lakeland fiber optic broadband option still alive

By Christopher Guinn
Polk Theatre (Lakeland, Florida)

Polk Theatre (Lakeland, Florida) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

LAKELAND — If the City Commission decides against starting a publicly owned Internet service utility, it won’t be because of a philosophical disagreement with the idea, commissioners agreed Wednesday.

Lakeland Mayor Howard Wiggs and Commissioner Don Selvage sought consensus from their colleagues following a brief discussion of the “gigabit” issue, in which the city would leverage its existing fiber optics assets to improve broadband connection speeds in the city.

“It’s a philosophical argument nationwide,” Selvage said. “I don’t want staff to do all the work if philosophically there is no way we will make this a (public) utility.”

National business groups have fought the expansion of municipal broadband at the state and federal level. A representative from the industry-backed political advocacy group Florida TaxWatch attended the last fiber optics discussion, and Bright House Networks hired a court reporter to record the meeting.

<p”>Five of the seven commissioners said they would consider creating a publicly owned and operated Internet utility, depending on the results of an upcoming financial analysis and risk assessment.

Commissioners Phillip Walker and Bill Read did not join their colleagues.

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About Mark Milliman

Mark Milliman is a Principal Consultant at Inphotonics Research driving the adoption and assisting local governments to plan, build, operate, and lease access open-access municipal broadband networks. Additionally, he works with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to increase the value of their intellectual capital through the creation of strategic product plans and execution of innovative marketing strategies. With more than 22 years of experience in the telecommunications industry that began at AT&T Bell Laboratories, Mark has built fiber, cable, and wireless networks around the world to deliver voice, video, and data services. His thorough knowledge of all aspects of service delivery from content creation to the design, operation, and management of the network is utilized by carriers and equipment manufacturers. Mark conceived and developed one of the industry’s first multi-service provisioning platform and is multiple patent holder. He is active in the IEEE as a senior member. Mark received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

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