Huntington Beach, Calif., Considers Offering Broadband as a Utility

The city has received several complaints of slow Internet speeds, so it's taking into consideration a proposal to offer it themselves.

by Anthony Clark Carpio, Huntington Beach Independent, Calif. / January 14, 2016
Huntington Beach, Calif. Wikicommons

(TNS) -- Huntington Beach could opt to go into the business of providing broadband service for residents, in essence act as a utility, as a solution to slow Internet speeds.

The city has hired an information technology consultant to study its broadband infrastructure. By February, CTC Technology & Energy is expected to recommend to the City Council a plan that will involve either helping private companies better connect with customers or the city in developing its own broadband service.

A city acting as a utility would not be unprecedented. Huntington Beach Planning Commissioner Dan Kalmick, an IT consultant, said Santa Monica and Sandy, Ore., have established their own Internet service for their residents at a competitive rate.

Since being elected to the council in November 2014, Barbara Delgleize has made it her goal to improve Internet service, saying that better connectivity would make the city more efficient and possibly attract new businesses.

"It's an untapped resource that the city could do something with," she said.

Delgleize, a realtor for 39 years, said that with CTC's report, she wants the city to be more proactive and start improving its broadband infrastructure.

"There's people that park in their cars outside the Central Library just so they can use the library's Wi-Fi," she said. "The need is there and the demand is there."

The councilwoman said she is open to improving the broadband infrastructure to allow Internet providers like Verizon and Time Warner Cable to improve their service. She is also willing to see the city create its own municipal service that would be competitive with other Internet providers.

Kalmick said private companies have not moved fast enough to improve connectivity and that local municipalities should start looking into getting into the Internet service business.

The city of Sandy currently offers Internet speeds of 100 megabits per second for $39.95 per month. In comparison, Time Warner Cable and Verizon offer Huntington Beach residents the same Internet speeds for $44.99 per month.

Google is also rolling out its service, Google Fiber, in various parts of the United States. The Internet service first debuted in Kansas City, Mo., delivering speeds of 1 gigabit, or 1,000 megabits, per second for $70 per month, according to Google.

If 1 gigabit per second is too much, Google offers 5 megabits per second Internet for free. However, the resident would need to pay $300 to have Google link the service to the home.

"This is important for the city because we're getting left behind," Kalmick said. "With that kind of speeds, you can run data centers out of your garage."

©2016 the Huntington Beach Independent (Huntington Beach, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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