Lincoln City dreaming out loud for TRUE high speed internet, triggering an innovative boost to its economy
Lincoln City appears poised to put their community on the high speed internet super-highway – which would help launch a whole new era of social, educational and economic growth.
Everyone knows about “high speed” internet service. But as with any technology, high speed means different things to different people – youngsters sending emails to grandma, to home occupation and distant workers communicating with their large company employers, distance medical treatment/education – the list goes on and on.
Keeping that in mind, most corporate internet providers call high speed internet anything faster than 5 megabits per second (mbs). But technological advancements now offer 100 to 1,000 mbs speeds which are becoming the standard of world internet service. Some countries have this exceptional internet service – others do not. In the United States it’s usually so expensive that most citizens can’t afford it. At least, until now.
There is a growing movement across the country to get around the high prices charged by corporate internet providers. And the Lincoln City City Council is beginning to examine how Lincoln City can be part of it. This week several councilors invited five Oregon pioneers in this field to discuss how they brought super-fast internet service to their own small communities of Monmouth and Independence, just west of Salem. The two cities created their own super-fast internet service because they wanted to take their communities to “the next level,” a level that would allow social and economic growth to bloom and prosper in their area – growth like distance medicine, distance higher learning, small to medium businesses having access to advantages in providing products and services and high-tech software and engineering savvy employees, who would rather work at home, in an area of their choice, rather than living in big, congested cities. Many of these tech savvy employees make a lot of money which could put Lincoln City on the map as a “next-generation” city that attracts low impact, high salary private sector employees helping to boost Lincoln City’s overall economy – something OTHER THAN tourism, which is seasonal and highly cyclical.
The representatives invited to Lincoln City were city councilors and a highly skilled technician from Monmouth and Independence who told the council, and a sizeable citizen audience, that they could not get affordable truly high speed internet service from the large corporate internet providers – providers who the councilors claimed were looking for profit margins higher than the two small communities could provide. So, these Monmouth-Independence officials did their homework and discovered that in similar circumstances nation-wide, small to medium-sized cities are investing in creating their own super-highway fiber network. It would be a publicly owned and operated system. No different than providing water, sewer, streets, police, fire and other “utilities.” Add to that list electricity – Oregon has many publicly owned electrical utilities whose customers pay far less for their power than customers of privately owned corporate power companies. Just compare electric bills of those living in Lincoln City to those living in Newport, for instance.
The argument is, with such a strategically important service as the internet, it is too vital a service to be left strictly in the hands of the profit-maximizing corporations who not only make a handsome profit but also feed much of their income to their private shareholders scattered around the country – if not the world. In short, if they can’t make a big enough profit margin, they don’t offer the service – in this case leaving rural communities forever in the slow lane of internet speeds.
Again, many countries around the world, especially in Europe, enjoy internet speeds that blow the doors off of what most U.S. customers get and at far lower prices. And it’s largely due to the acknowledgement that internet service is truly a UTILITY…not a take-it-or-leave-it luxury commodity. Small cities and rural areas of the U.S. struggle with low speed internet while paying handsomely for what little they get. It’s this realization that motivates Lincoln City Councilor Judy Casper and others on the council to explore establishing a high speed internet UTILITY for Lincoln City. Councilors have long known that attracting new kinds of high speed data services is a techno-spark that can ignite an otherwise sleepy economy into a vibrant, high performance place to live and work, with economic multipliers from having access to the WORLD economy.
How such a system was established in Monmouth-Independence is very much on the minds of a majority of Lincoln City City Councilors. Like any new “breakthrough” dream, it requires sober analysis and learning from the mistakes of others who have successfully pulled off such an economic-boosting coup.
But to be sure, if you’re not maximizing profits and supporting thousands of shareholders, you CAN get “next generation” internet service out into the rural areas of the state with plenty of money for maintenance, technological improvements and growing the locql economy in ways you couldn’t otherwise.
We’ll see how all this unfolds.