Community fiber works

Submitted by acohill on Fri, 03/11/2005 - 10:34

Princeton, Illinois provides some helpful data on a successful community fiber project. So why did the community decide to install 15 miles of fiber cable? Here's what the head of the municipal project said:

"Our primary goal was economic stability and some hope for economic growth," Baird said, noting that one of the largest companies in town moved out, taking with it more than 300 jobs. "We had some concerns from our customers that they were in the same boat because of a lack of telecom services."

Like a lot of other municipal fiber projects, Princeton has its own electric utility, meaning they already have much of the technical expertise to take on this kind of project. But Princeton did not create another city utility. Instead, they partnered with a local ISP to light up the fiber, and the private company handles billing and service. The ISP pays a fee to obtain access to the network, and the city expects to recoup its $350,000 investment in 18 to 24 months.

This is the right way to do it. The community builds the infrastructure, and provides it on a cost recovery basis to the private sector, which provides the service to customers, creates jobs, and pays taxes. Everybody wins.

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