No fiber-optic bond question in spring for Glenwood Springs voters
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado The City Council decided Thursday night not to ask voters this spring for permission to issue a $12 to $15 million bond to expand the citys fiber-optic network directly to homes.Faced with a fast-approaching Dec. 4 deadline to get the question on the spring ballot, city councilors took a more measured approach. They voted unanimously to obtain a market assessment for more detailed information on how well selling Internet, television and phone services directly to homes over fiber-optic cables might work in the Glenwood Springs area.We need to have our ducks in a row before we ask voters for the money, and I dont think were quite there yet, said Mayor Bruce Christensen, a strong supporter of the project.The existing fiber-optic network the city installed in 2002 hasnt made money and has been losing about $200,000 a year. It connects only to businesses in some areas.Councilor Russ Arensman said, Im still very excited about the possibilities of the project, but I am not at a comfort level where I think weve done adequate due diligence where we can make a decision. I havent seen any numbers. I have not seen an actual business plan here.Diane Kruse, founder and CEO of Zoomy Communications, encouraged the City Council to aggressively pursue expanding the network. She said Zoomy has installed more fiber-optic cables to homes than Comcast, Qwest and AT&T combined and has been approached by developers in Dubai. Existing companies are not planning on building fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) connections in the Glenwood Springs area any time soon, she said, pointing out that the U.S. is far behind some countries in Internet speeds.Were seeing more and more bandwidth intensive, video-rich content that is being shared amongst users on the Internet, she said, adding that the popular video site http://www.youtube.com didnt exist three years ago but now consumes more than 8 percent of the worlds Internet traffic.Janet Rinaldi, a Comcast director of government affairs, said Comcast supports competition because its the best for consumers. But she added that Comcast worries the city would compete unfairly because it also regulates Comcast here through a cable franchise.Were concerned about the city being in a position of being both regulator and competitor, she said. We just want to make sure that there are no inequities that arise out of that unique arrangement.Don Bernes, a Glenwood resident who said he used to be a corporate guy, said its not the citys role to enter into a commercial venture, and the city could not compete with large companies that have more technical expertise and could easily drop prices here to undercut any discounts the city could offer.A nonprofit consulting group that executed a $135,000 planning and design contract for the city has said theres little financial risk in expanding the network. It developed a business plan that said the network would easily make a few million a year or much more while offering cheaper and better services to consumers.The city has also commissioned a $12,000 contract including a survey of existing FTTH projects from a local company, and another business plan from Uti Inc. to help determine how successful the fiber-optic expansion would be. Uti Inc. got around $44,000 for the 323-page business plan and associated work.Supporters of the expansion have said it would offer better services at a lower price, increase home values, create jobs, entice businesses to locate here and benefit educational and health care institutions.I think of it more as an infrastructure and being able to bring infrastructure to the community that is far superior to whats available at this time, said Councilor Shelley Kaup. Its something that will help every aspect of the community.Contact Pete Fowler: email@example.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO
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