Lakeland, Fla., Invites Resident Feedback on Broadband

Lakeland residents are being asked by officials to provide their opinions on whether they would be interested in the Central Florida city launching its own municipal-owned high-speed Internet service.

by Sara-Megan Walsh, The Ledger / September 12, 2019
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(TNS) — Lakeland, Fla., residents are being asked to weigh in on whether they would be interested in the city launching its own municipal-owned internet service.

The City Commission will hold a public forum at 6 p.m. Oct. 1 at the RP Funding Center to solicit feedback on the proposed broadband business plan from Magellan Advisors, the city's broadband consultant.

"This issue is really starting to gain traction," Commissioner Justin Troller said at the Sept. 7 meeting. "It's really refreshing to hear from local folks who will be impacted by this initiative. I look forward to the conversation and hearing folks on both sides."

City officials will give a brief 15-minute presentation on the assumptions and risks that go into launching a broadband utility at 6:30 p.m. This will be followed by an hour reserved for input from city residents and business owners. A comment box will also be available for residents who feel more comfortable writing their thoughts than publicly speaking, according to city spokesman Kevin Cook.

The forum will begin at 6 p.m. with information sessions in which people will have the opportunity to ask questions about the proposed broadband business plans. Magellan has estimated it will cost $97.5 million to build a citywide fiber-optic network out to 44,000 residential homes and businesses. The network would be capable of offering symmetrical upload and download speeds of up to 1 gigabit.

A preliminary pricing plan ranges from $20 for basic internet service up to $200 a month for a triple-play package, which would feature 1 gigabit internet, premium television and a phone line.

The city's 95-page detailed business plan and Magellan's presentations can be found online at www.lakelandgov.net/broadband.

"It will become a community issue, we all need to educate ourselves," Troller said. "We can find studies that validate each of our positions, but ultimately it comes down to who will take care of the community in the future the best. I believe it's the elected officials who will continue to look out for this community."

The city has also launched an online survey in an effort to gather as much feedback as possible on the public's interest in a municipal broadband service. The survey is multiple choice and can be submitted anonymously.

©2019 The Ledger (Lakeland, Fla.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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