Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ammon, Do A Bond for Fiber Optics

It’s time the city of Ammon floated a bond to expand its fiber optics network into a true public internet utility.

I don’t care if it’s competition for private broadband internet providers in the area. We’ve been customers of two of them – CenturyLink and now Cable One. They need competition, because you’re either paying more for mediocre service or slightly less for service that craps out every evening.

The city has a plan right now – but it’s not nearly ambitious enough.

The plan is to offer the service for an installation cost of $3,000 (per household, if enough people in your neighborhood agree to sign up). The cost could be amortized at $15 a month for 20 years. But then there’s the ISP fees. And the fact that after the 20 years is up, you’d still be paying the city $15 a month for providing fiber. (At least that’s what a local news report said. The city itself is being catty about costs, saying only to move from concept to reality, “we need to know who is interested and where they live. Only then can we begin to define the project and calculate the costs.”

I’m glad to see the city taking this step. But let’s take it a step further.

Just do a bond. Yeah, there are people who won’t want fiber optic service from the city and won’t want to pay for it. Tell them to suck it up. The school district does. The cemetery and ambulance districts do. I’m not able to opt out of school taxes or ambulance taxes or whatever other taxes there are out there. But I recognize schools and ambulances and cemeteries and such are there for the public good, even if that good is limited only to keeping dead people in their place. So I pay them.
And private companies complaining about public competition can pound sand. Or they could, you know, stop plastering their names all over sports complexes or sponsoring sports teams and invest that money into their infrastructure so their service is actually worth the cost.

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