Archive for Wednesday, June 5, 2013

City to approach Baker, school district about interest in bringing Internet upgrade to Baldwin City

Baldwin City Hall

Baldwin City Hall

June 5, 2013

Baldwin City should start a dialogue with two likely local partners as the first step to bringing gigabit fiber optic Internet to the community, the Baldwin City Council was told Monday.

City Administrator Chris Lowe presented the Baldwin City Council a five-page report on gigabit fiber optic Internet capacity and initial thoughts on what it would take to get it extended to the community. Lowe stressed the report was meant as an introduction to the issue and he had no recommendations, including whether the city should pursue the upgrade.

Gigabit capacity is the ability to download or upload via the Internet 1,000 megabits of information in a second, Lowe said. Currently, he can download about 4 megabits per second at his home computer, he said.

Lowe has attended several meeting on gigabit capacity in recent weeks, including one in Dallas featuring Milo Medin, vice president of access services for Google.

Bringing gigabit capability to Baldwin City would be a very expensive infrastructure investment, short of the unlikely prospect a private provider decided to extend the service on its own, Lowe said.

That’s why approaching the two biggest likely partners — Baker University and the Baldwin school district — is the obvious starting place, Lowe said.

“If Baker says they don’t need it or the school district says no, it’s dead in the water,” he said, adding that he doubted that would be the case.

It was through similar partnerships that Ottawa and Chanute managed to bring gigabit service to their cities, Lowe said. Major players in Ottawa’s gigabit capacity, which is not available for residential use, were Franklin County, Ransom Memorial Hospital and the American Outfitters and Walmart distribution centers, he said.

Local industry also played a key role in bringing gigabit capacity to Chanute, Lowe said. The city manager of Chanute has agreed to address the council soon about that city’s experience, he said.

He started his research thinking of the Internet upgrade primarily as an economic development tool, Lowe said.

“I changed my mind,” he said. “It’s about the quality of life in this community for the next 60 years. How long do we wait to get in the game? That’s the question and a good one. Maybe not for a while.”

His report was meant as a starting point of what will be a long discussion, Lowe said. He likened it to that of city fathers in the early 1900s investing in an electrical power and distribution system.


Highstreet 7 years ago

Bringing in gigabit fiber optic is a good idea but not if it's non-residential such as Ottawa's is. I'd say get on Google's list and stay there. They'll be coming to the Gardner/Edgerton area before long due to the intermodal project and all the high-tech growth coming with it. Communities that do not keep out in front of this stuff will get run over and left behind by it.


Bloggerboo 7 years ago

Or, more likely, communities that do not keep out in front will wait until the prices are lower, and then jump on board when they actually need these services.


1776attorney 6 years, 11 months ago

The mayor was a one issue candidate. Unfortunately, her one issue is pure fantasy when you understand the technology and cost issues involved. The mayor received only 1/3 of the votes while 2/3 of the cast ballots went to other candidates (and against her). The mayor did not get any type of approval or mandate from the election.

This is not to say I do not want the mayor to be successful. I hope she will take the time to understand why taxpayers are angry with the issues city hall is pursuing and change course.

Here's an simplistic example. A family with 3 kids, 2 adults, 2 computers, an iPad and 2 smart TVs only needs about 5 megabits of broadband service to utilize all of the above devices to their maximum potential. A family can get this service for $30 to $40 a month currently.

The 2 Baldwin City providers, MediaCom and CenturyLink, usually tier their service to provide more than 5 megabits.

Gigabit fiber optic broadband is 200 times faster than what a normal family can even utilize in their home. No family is going to pay $100 or more a month for 995 megabits of broadband that they cannot even utilize.

If a local business or institution wants gigabit fiber optic, let them cover the $5 million investment privately. Gigabit is not a technology for residential users at this time and will not be for a number of years in Baldwin City.

Additionally, it is not even an economic issue for attracting new business to Baldwin City. The new InterModel in Edgerton includes over 4,000,000 square feet of spanking brand new cutting edge warehouse and office space which is something that Baldwin City can never compete against and if our leaders were wise they wouldn't even attempt to.

We should be promoting Baldwin City as a great bedroom community with superior city services and infrastructure catering to residents. And then focus the city in this direction. You play to your strengths, if you're wise enough to identify them and build upon what sets you apart.


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