In Kaysville, Utah, the city is considering establishing a municipal fiber optic utility in the community of approximately 32,000 people. City leaders are considering the utility fee model, to enhance competition, inspire better rates, and encourage innovation in the community.
A Recurring Issue
The Salt Lake Tribune recently reviewed the plan in Kaysville, where the city council will soon vote whether or not to approve a $26 million bond in order to deploy a citywide publicly owned fiber optic network. Community leaders have determined that a Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network is essential infrastructure for Kaysville. Comcast and CenturyLink serve most of Kaysville; some areas near the city must rely on satellite Internet access. City leaders want to lower prices and improve services by creating an environment for increased competition.
“As I was doing door-to-door campaigning, this was an issue that came up again and again and again,” said Kaysville Mayor Katie Witt, who’s a proponent of the city’s plan to create a fiber optic network. “We need to look down the road and plan for the future and make sure that we have the critical infrastructure in our community.”
The city has reviewed possible options and, after "one of the most vetted and open projects that we’ve worked on," decided that the utility model is best suited for Kaysville, said Councilwoman Michelle Barber.
“That’s what took 18 months of looking at was finding out that there are options, there are a lot of different options and ways to go about this," [Barber] said. “And after evaluating them all, going through a really long process, seeing feasibility, financial models and what’s the best fit, we found this one which we believe to be the best fit for Kaysville.”
The Utility Fee Model
Kaysville plans to deploy an open access model, which will allow multiple Internet access companies to offer services through the fiber optic infrastructure owned by the community. They will use a utility fee to finance and maintain the infrastructure.
As part of the plan, private companies would provide basic Internet service to all residents and businesses, though any could decide to pay an extra fee for a higher level of service. They could also choose to opt out entirely but would still be required to pay a monthly fee on their utility bill, though it would be slightly lower than the price set for homes at $12.45 a month and commercial entities at $21.50.
A recent survey revealed that more than 85 percent of businesses and residents want better connectivity. More than 81 percent of residents stated that they feel the city should be involved in bringing better Internet access to the community. The city council expects to decide whether to move forward on October 17th, after public meetings to hear constituent input.