Fiber Network Moves Forward in Bloomington, Indiana

BLOOMINGTON, IN — The city of Bloomington has narrowed down the number of potential partners for its soon-to-be-built citywide  fiber network, according to Mayor John Hamilton. "We've been working on finding the best option for Bloomington that will include reasonably priced access to fiber broadband for every household and business, and that will help address the digital divide in our community," said Hamilton. "We've narrowed the potential partners down from the original twelve who responded to our request for information, and are in intensive and detailed negotiations with strong potential partners.

"I have been urging the importance of citywide fiber service for Bloomington, because I believe it is the 21st century equivalent of what electricity was 100 years ago. Gigabit broadband is growing in the U.S. and we need it here. It will be a key part of tomorrow's economy, healthcare, education, and entertainment; we will see virtual and augmented reality products and some new options we can't predict. If you can, remember back to dial-up Internet service, and how when DSL and cable Internet arrived, we could suddenly stream video and have online conversations with loved ones a world apart. Those options were hard to imagine when all we had was dial-up. The world is changing fast, and with fiber speeds 50 times greater than current services, applications and options that haven't even been developed yet will change our lives and the economy. The future will be a different world, and the time to prepare for it is now."

Mayor Hamilton believes that the city and the right partner are in a position to achieve the following five benchmarks for Bloomington's fiber service:

  • Citywide: This technology should be available throughout Bloomington, leaving no neighborhoods behind. At present, some companies offer slow speed networks citywide and other companies offer high speed networks but only in limited areas. Bloomington can and should have high speed fiber throughout the City.

  • Open access: An open network will allow more than one provider to use the capacities and speed of the new network. This valuable community asset should be open and available to a variety of users, including local companies like Smithville Fiber so they can expand their services over time. This is not a typical model for a network financed primarily with private funds, but one that reflects Bloomington's commitment to open access, competition, and innovation. An open access model increases the opportunity for more users to benefit from the network.

  • Financially responsible: Bloomington is an attractive market for investment, and several potential partners from the twelve companies that responded to our request for information have indicated realistic plans to build a citywide, open access fiber network, with the great majority of that build financed privately.

  • Reducing the digital divide: When access to the digital world depends upon financial resources, the result is what has become known as a digital divide. This disparity can exacerbate social differences and diminish opportunities. Although it is a daunting challenge, there are various ways to make digital access more available and more affordable for all. Bloomington should help lessen the digital divide, and will partner with a company that shares that value and offers specific programs to do so.

  • Timely: Scores of communities around the country and in Indiana have built or are building city wide fiber networks. Bloomington should be a leader not a follower in this infrastructure. Bloomington has the opportunity by the end of 2016 to select a partner and announce another option for residents and businesses of Bloomington who want and need Gigabit internet speed, and who support an approach that is city wide, and open, and won't leave neighborhoods behind. The process is on pace to begin the construction of a city wide network in 2017.

"Bloomington cannot afford to wait," Mayor Hamilton concluded. "With citywide fiber, Bloomington will be positioned as a competitive community in the gigabit age. Fiber connectivity has been proven to attract business, improve property values and make the communities that have it more attractive to anyone living there or looking to live there. It increases our quality of life. That's why we have strong local companies investing in fiber, neighborhood by neighborhood, business by business. I look forward in the weeks ahead to share additional information about our bright digital future as we take the next step and go city wide and open up access to additional providers."


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