Hudson, Ohio, Might Ask Voters to Pay for High-Speed Internet Project

A 10-year levy could be the way city officials can pay for the $21 million Internet infrastructure project.

by Paula Schleis, Akron Beacon Journal / May 7, 2018

(TNS) — HUDSON — City officials are considering asking residents to help pay for high-speed Internet infra­structure that would reach every household in the city and offer 1 gigabyte service at a cost that’s less than other current options.

Last week, Hudson City Council gave the first of three required readings on legislation that would put a 2.7-mill, 10-year levy on the Nov. 6 ballot to pay for the $21 million project. The final reading and a possible vote could come at the end of May.

The levy would fund the construction of the line, something that has been hard to arrange through private providers, city spokeswoman Jody Roberts said.

“We’ve found so far that most providers, they want to do more urban areas where there is more profit to be made,” she said.

The city has had success with its own Internet service for businesses. In 2016, it launched Velocity Broadband, taking the high-speed fiber-optic lines into central business areas.

“Velocity is doing well and is operationally in the black now,” Roberts said.

Expanding into neighborhoods was always the greater vision, she added.

“But it’s up for the people to decide,” Roberts said.

The tax would cost $8 a month per $100,000 home valuation. Residents who sign up for the service would then pay $30 a month.

“So take a $300,000 home, you’re talking $24 a month [for the levy] and $30 for the service charge,” Roberts said. “That’s $54, and that’s usually less than what people are paying now.”

Plus, it would be 1 gigabyte, something that most communities don’t even have access to, she said.

“This is the wave of the future for technology. Needing more bandwidth and speed and reliability for multiple devices,” Roberts said.

If the council ultimately decides to put the issue on the ballot and it passes, construction would begin in 2019 and last about two years. That means the service could become available to households in 2021.

A recent marketing study done for Hudson found that the city would need about 40 percent of city households to take the $30 service to make the operation financially sound.

A phone survey of Hudson residents found 52 respondents would be interested.

The survey also found that 98 percent of Hudson residences have internet service.

“The advantage of going with the city,” Roberts said, “is we’re not trying to make a profit. We’re just trying to provide a service.”

©2018 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.