If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That seems to be American Fork’s motto when it comes to municipal fiber.
The American Fork City Council is considering yet another proposal to install fiber across the city, despite the city already doing something similar back in 2002.
While the city claims it is only exploring the idea, it has already created a visual design and brand, purchased a web domain, and built a website filled with arguments in support of this municipal fiber proposal.
According to the city, the new fiber plan will cost between $25 – 30 million to build out, which includes the payment of $2.5 million of existing city debt for its previous fiber buildout. Citizens could expect to see a utility fee of around $10 per month at the beginning of the building, should the city council approve the plan.
The plan allows for the city itself to contract with an ISP to provide service, creating a circumstance in which government entities are directly competing against the private market, which is already well-established in the city.
In fact, according to a survey paid for by American Fork, 73% of respondents said their internet speed was satisfactory. 36% also said they had no interest in changing their internet connection.
The city claims this project is modeled to be self-sustaining and financially independent of the other needs in the City. Modeling is very different from practice.
With nearly 40% of respondents saying they have no interest in changing and 73% satisfied with their speed, it really brings into question what the purpose is of the city considering this proposal.
We’ve seen time and time again the wading into the municipal fiber quagmire ends badly for citizens, cities, and taxpayers.
With a possible $30 million price tag for an unscheduled buildout of a service that is already well-provided by the private sector, the City Council of American Fork ought to seriously reconsider its actions taken thus far and reject the proposal.
At the very least, the question should be presented directly to voters in the November election whether or not they want this kind of service provided by the city at a severe cost.