Highland, Ill., Customers See Costs Slashed for Gig Service

The city made changes to its "Gig-a-Share" plan to make it more competitive with private-sector offerings.

by Megan Braa, Belleville News-Democrat / May 30, 2018

(TNS) – Highland Communications Services has lowered the cost of its highest Internet speed plan to about one-quarter of its original price.

On May 21 , the Highland City Council reduced what is now called the "Gig-a-Share" plan, which gives the city's Internet, television and telephone consumers a broadband speed of 1 gigabit per second (Gb/s).

"It is the only gigabit speed available in Highland. It’s only $20 more a month than Charter’s highest which is five times slower (200 Mb/s )," said the city's Director of Technology and Innovation Angela Imming.

The plan prices moved from $399.95 to $94.95. Imming said the old rate was in effect for almost 12 years, and the decision was based on a recent assessment that compared the city's broadband speed prices to local and regional providers. The assessment indicated the plan does not align with market value.

"That's the thing about technology is that, at the beginning, it costs more, and then as people develop, and as tech defines its place in the market, it drives the prices down," Imming said.

However, Imming also said the decision was driven in part by the final results of a recent survey, which was launched by the city in March.

Imming said the survey was developed to help the city grasp an understanding of where HCS will go in the future as technology innovations continue to move forward.

To develop the survey, the city paired with the Strategic Network Group (SNG), an economy research firm which helps develop strategies for broadband use in communities.

Out of the responses received, Imming said a major takeaway was that users want higher Internet speeds for a cheaper price.

Recently, Harvard University published a study which showed HCS provides the fifth most savings for basic broadband services over its local competitor. However, some of HCS's higher speeds such as 100 Mb/s, 200 Mb/s, and until last week 1 Gb/s, still remained higher than some local and regional services, though many do not provide the options at all.

In the future, Imming said that users will probably see a price decrease in the 100 Mb/s and 200 Mb/s speeds.

In addition, the council also approved a change to the existing "Streamer's Dream" plan. The package is catered toward streaming households as it provides 60 Mbps download and upload speeds and standard definition television with local channels.

The plan now allows data additions of 20 Mbps increments for about $10 per add on. Imming said the change was made to help accommodate the growing demand quality streaming services on wireless devices. Currently, 97 HCS customers subscribe to the package.

Imming estimated that if 40 percent of subscribers pick up an add-on, the city will experience a return of about $4650 annually.

"It is imperative to accommodate the growing demand of in-home wireless devices connected to the Internet while providing quality streaming services and local television programming," Imming said in a memo.

©2018 the Belleville News-Democrat (Belleville, Ill.), Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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