On Tuesday, a committee of the Louisville Metro Council recommended for approval for the awarding of franchises to three separate companies to install fiber optic cable in the area. It is expected that SiFi Networks, BluegrassNet and Fiber Technologies Networks will get final approval for these franchises from the Council when it meets Thursday, July 24.
The push to bring gigabit level Internet to Louisville comes after Google (News - Alert) chose not to add the city to its high performance Fiber program. It is part of a growing movement by other cities that are frustrated by being excluded from Google Fiber or feel that current providers are in no hurry to upgrade their infrastructure.
The impact of the discrepancy in Internet speed between cities that have gigabit level performance and those that don’t can be prohibitive. According to James Benham, a city council member and software business owner in College Station, Tex., businesses pay 34 times as much for commercial grade service as similar cities that have installed fiber.
In College Station businesses pay $3,395 per month for 50 Mbps download/upload while businesses in Chattanooga, Tenn. pay only $99 per month for the same level service. Super-fast Internet service in College Station would not only be put to good use by area businesses, but also researchers from Texas A&M University.
Another city in the 100,000-200,000 population range, Lafayette, La. established LUSFiber to install broadband in the city. Residents there can get 1000 Mbps service with symmetrical service (same speeds for upload and download) for as low as $69.95 per month.
According to Louisville TV station WDRB, the franchises would give the three companies access to public rights of way to install fiber cable, but not taxpayer funding. The debate over whether or not governments should fund broadband fiber installation is at the heart of many proposed projects. LUSFiber is part of a city funded utility in Lafayette and Chattanooga’s broadband is also city funded. A proposed broadband project in Virginia is currently delayed as area governments differ on how it should be funded.
Whether or not cities should fund broadband is a lengthy debate in its own right, but one thing is certain. Cities that have gigabit broadband will be able to lure businesses away from cities that don’t have it. No business wants to spend in a year what it would cost for a new car when it can get the same service somewhere else for about one or two months’ worth of property rent payments.
Edited by Maurice Nagle