Tonight: Learn About Municipal Broadband; Give Your Opinion

Do you have an opinion on whether the city of Lakeland should build on its 330 miles of fiber-optic cable to launch a municipal broadband utility? For those who want to express an opinion — and those who just want to learn more — the city of Lakeland is holding a public forum tonight. Here are the basics:

What: Broadband Utility Public Forum

When: Tuesday, Oct, 1, 6 to 8 p.m.

Where: RP Funding Center, Sikes Hall

Parking: Free

Watch live: LakelandGov TV, Spectrum Channel 643, FiOS Channel 43, starting at 6:30.

Schedule:
6:00: Open House with Information Stations
6:30: Presentation on Assumptions & Risks
6:45:Public Comment
7:45:Closing Comments
8:00:Adjourn

Can I give my opinion without attending? Yes, the city is conducting an online survey through Oct. 18.

Business plan: The city hired Magellan Advisors to draft a business plan to determine if a broadband utility is feasible. The consultants determined it will cost $97.5 million to build the infrastructure needed to reach homes and businesses within city limits. The system would take two years to build and break even in its 10th year if it can attract 38% of residences and 41% of businesses, Magellan projects.

Documents: Business plan | Aug. 5 presentation to City Commission | Aug. 19 presentation to City Commission

Consumer costs: Tentative costs not including taxes and fees –

Internet

1 Gigabit Internet $99.99
400 Megabit$59.99
200 Megabit$49.99
25 Megabit$19.99

Double-Play

1 Gigabit Internet + Premium Television$164.99
400 Megabit Internet + Expanded Digital Television$134.99
200 Megabit Internet + Basic Television$74.99

Triple Play

1 Gigabit Internet + Premium Television + Home Phone$199.99
400 Megabit Internet + Expanded Digital Favorites Television + Home Phone$174.99
200 Megabit Internet + Basic Television + Home Phone$119.99

Supporters: Gigabit Lakeland formed in 2015 to support municipal broadband. It argues on yes2fiber.org and on fliers distributed this past weekend that with only one company, Spectrum, serving most Lakeland homes, municipal broadband would bring lower prices, greater reliability and increased access.

Opponents: We’re not aware of organized opposition (other than Spectrum), but opponents have argued at City Commission meetings and in letters to the editor that the city shouldn’t complete with private business and that broadband is a risky business to enter as technology evolves.

More info: Lakeland Broadband Utility page

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