Fort Dodge official offers facts on broadband

By Ryan Maehl

To give the public more information about the Nov. 5 referendum on a potential municipal broadband utility in Fort Dodge, Ryan Maehl, the assistant director of parks, recreation and forestry, has submitted this outline of key points.

Municipal Financing 101

• A broadband network is a self-sufficient enterprise.

• Broadband money does not take from street repairs.

• A broadband project does not increase your taxes and taxpayers are not on the hook.

What a successful 11/5/19 vote means to the broadband process

• You have given the city more ability to make sure you get a better broadband network.

What an unsuccessful 11/5/19 vote means to the broadband process

• You are telling current providers what they are doing now is acceptable ,and keep up the good work.

Four options from a successful 11/5/19 vote

• Current provider hears and sees what its customers want and recognizes the need to improve its broadband services.

• An outside entity introduces a competitive alternate broadband option.

• City creates a municipal telecommunications utility.

• Some hybrid of the previous three options.

If a municipal telecommunications utility is approved, it’s only one step in a long journey to a city-owned fiber network

• There are a lot of steps that need to be covered after a successful municipal telecommunications referendum before a system is built.

• A feasibility study would need to be conducted showing whether a city-owned fiber utility would be self-supporting and in the best interests of the community.

• Next, an engineering firm would need to be hired to create a complete network design and detailed cost analysis, and to help develop a business plan.

• A financing plan would need to be created so the city would know how startup and operational funds would be acquired.

• The city would need to seek bids from construction companies, contractors, materials suppliers and other vendors who would build the network.

A city-supported broadband plan will not selectively install fiber to certain neighborhoods

• Everybody has the same opportunity to receive the same caliber service at the same time.

Definition of broadband

• The Federal Communications Commission defines this as 25mb down and 3 mb up.

What would the proposed broadband project look like

• An option for fiber optic cable would be to install underground with fiber to the home.

• There would be a main line in the right-of-way and than another fiber connected to that fiber that gets connected directly to your dwelling.

Why is broadband necessary?

• Increased property resale values

• Increased rent revenues

• Improves quality of life

• Enhances economic growth

• Broadband is now a hot topic and researched item, just like schools, safety, recreation and shopping opportunities for individuals and families choosing a place to work and live.

• Heightened business capabilities, both for brick and mortar businesses or work-from-home operations.

• Available infrastructure needs for enhanced safety services that could be integrated from across our community to the Law Enforcement Center.

• Educational enhancements for all ages.

• Small wireless facility capabilities for cellular providers.

A municipal telecommunications utility provides local control

• Money that is being spent doesn’t necessarily increase, but instead of sending it out of town, it stays local.