By SCOTT JACKSON
Citing concerns from residents over the cost of internet service and a lack of options, Quincy officials on Monday announced they are taking steps to study the feasibility of operating a fiber-optic broadband network in the city.
Mayor Thomas Koch and Ward 3 Councillor Ian Cain made the announcement during a press conference inside the McIntyre Government Center.
“I hear constantly from people about lack of competition – some related to cable, some related to slowness of access to get onto the network,” Koch said. “This is something we’re very serious about looking at.”
“This is really a constituent- and resident-driven project,” said Cain, who authored a 2018 resolution asking the city to study the feasibility of creating a broadband municipal network.
“There is something that we hear when we are out talking to residents and constituents all the time, it’s ‘when are getting, when are we going to get options, when are we going to get cheaper internet with better service?’”
Cain said the plan would be to create a city-owned fiber-optic network. The city would lay the cable for the network, and residents and businesses would be able to select from a list of internet service providers who would use that network.
“What this project is really doing is separating the infrastructure from the services. We’re going to look at providing a city municipally owned utility, in the form of fiber/broadband, and allowing for different companies, internet service providers, to compete on that network, which will offer competition and eventually to bring the price down,” Cain said.
“The goal would be to eventually provide residents in the city of Quincy with internet as low as $50 a month, which is something I think that every can get behind.”
Those who prefer to stay with Comcast of Verizon would be able to do so.
As part of the process, the city will be surveying residents to gauge their interest in participating in the new network. The survey is available online at quincyfiber.com, a new website launched to explain the municipal broadband concept to residents. Koch said questions regarding municipal broadband could also be sent to residents on next year’s city census.
Entry Point Networks is working with Quincy officials to complete the study at a nominal cost to the city, Cain said. The company worked with the city of Ammon, Idaho, to install a similar network there, which “Fast Company” on Monday called the best fiber-optic network in the country.
It will likely be a year or more before installation of the new broadband network could commence, he said, and it would likely be done on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis depending on demand.
The total cost of the installing the new network has yet to be determined.