I said it. The controversial word. But I have a good reason for bringing it up. I am in favor of this endeavor but it has taken some convincing. While I have always seen the long-term benefits of making higher internets speeds widely available to anyone interested, I have not always had a clear picture of why this is something that the municipal government of Kaysville, Utah should consider. But I get it now and wanted to share.
Kaysville is not the first city to look at providing fiber internet and if our city moves forward with it, it will be far from the first to implement municipal fiber. But there are some basic elements that have to be accounted for in order for fiber to be a reasonable option for a municipality. And Kaysville has many of the key elements.
- We live in a state that would allow for the possibility.
- We have our own power company so when we go to install the fiber lines, we do not have to pay fees to an outside provider every time we want to hang a line on a pole or place a line in a trench.
- Due to good financial management, we have the financial capacity to look at this option without maxing out our bonding capacities.
- We have community members who are enthusiastic about the prospect. (You might question this last one but just look at the people who have volunteered their time for the last year and half to research the topic, attend meetings and put together copious amounts of information for the public.)
I know these four things might sound small but taken together, we have a real opportunity to create something in Kaysville that not every city can accomplish. And more than that, it will be a huge asset for the citizens (both individually and as a community asset).
To draw a parallel, a tract of land was recently incorporated into Kaysville City. The homes on the land previously had RMP providing electricity to their homes but because of our city codes, those homes had to be brought into the Kaysville City grid. Purchasing the existing power lines came at a cost of about $600/house. Drawing that out, the electric system that the city currently owns includes all of the lines to our homes. That is a true asset. And it is part of the reason that Kaysville is a desirable place to live (whether we realize it or not). Fiber will provide another level of city independence that will be valuable for homeowner for years to come. While wireless technologies will continue to grow their capabilities to increase speeds, bandwidths will always remain shared. Having a fiber line dedicated to your home will be an asset. At present, fiber is estimated to increase a home’s value by $3K-$5K. And that value will stay with the home instead of reverting back to a private company when you move (thus making the new owner pay back into an outside company).
Now onto the actual logistics. How can we build out this great thing without putting the city in a financially risky place? How can we create this “asset” without over taxing the citizens? To me, the answer is obvious. If it will be an asset for the whole city, we can come together to lessen the burden on any one person. The technical advisory committee has been VERY transparent in their thought process and a lot of information has been discussed publicly. But we have to keep in mind that it is a process and initial thoughts are not always the best.
As the community has come to open houses and citizens have shared concerns and the data has been evaluated over and over, the outlook of those involved has grown and changed. And where they have landed is at the idea of this project being an asset project that will be best accomplished through a small fee assessed to every resident. “UGH! FEE!” I know. It’s another controversial word. But the theory behind it is solid. IF the citizens provide the backing for the infrastructure through a fee, the city will be able to build out fiber lines throughout the city and we will see increased efficiencies from our municipal government, faster and more reliable internet at our homes and increased home values.
I, for one, am sold. But if you are not, I would encourage you to continue interacting, attending the informational meetings and asking questions. Nothing is being done in the shadows and if you have concerns, you have MANY opportunities to be heard and to help the city grow in the right direction.