The city of Wilsonville, Oregon, is collecting information from businesses and residents to explore community interest in a municipal fiber network. So far, efforts to analyze need include two surveys and the first of several public meetings with businesses. The City Council anticipates considering the results of the study this summer.
This Is Wilsonville
Wilsonville is a densely populated city located in the Portland metro. Its seven square miles is home to about 20,000 residents and a handful of tech companies. The city has some existing fiber, which connects to neighboring Clackamas County’s broadband network and provides high-quality, low-cost service to Wilsonville’s police department, library, and schools. Wilsonville doesn't have a municipal electric utility, but does supply water and wastewater.
It's in the northwest corner of the state, primarily in Clackamas County with a section of the community located in Washington County. There are a number of large distribution centers in the community, including Coca-Cola and Rite-Aid, that require access to high-capacity connectivity. Clackamas County's Broadband eXchange provides fiber connectivity to public facilities and businesses across the county.
Wilsonville first considered improving Internet access last January, when the City Council authorized staff to work with a consultant to explore their options.
“It really goes to the concept of how competitive we think our city should be across business interests and across industry, as well as the financial addition and even the residential participation in that,” said [Mayor] Tim Knapp.
All Options On The Table
In 2013, the city invested in some fiber that serves government institutions and could become the backbone for expansion projects. They're considering several possibilities, including maintaining a network only for governmental purposes, providing connectivity to the commercial district, and offering high-quality Internet access to residential neighborhoods. Though community leaders have not made a decision on the matter, they are considering whether to become a municipal Internet Service Provider (ISPs) or to find a partner to operate on the network.
Incumbents Comcast and Frontier offer services in Wilsonville now. The project has the potential to add another ISP, giving residents more options and possibly encouraging competitors to provide a better product.