HiLighting Hillsboro, Oregon - Episode 538 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by General Manager Brad Nosler and Senior Customer Support specialist Elizabeth Pereira, both from the city of Hillsboro, Oregon. The city's municipal broadband network, HiLight, is new, having begun signing up subscribers in the spring of 2021.

Notably, HiLight began building in the areas highest-need neighborhoods, where connectivity rates were disproportionately low. Equally importantly, HiLight has among the best income-qualified subscription tiers for families struggle to pay for access of any network in the nation, offering symmetrical gigabit service for just $10/month. Brad and Elizabeth talk with Christopher abou

This show is 33 minutes long and can be played on this page or via Apple Podcasts or the tool of your choice using this feed

Transcript below. 

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Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index. See other podcasts from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance here.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.


Brad Nosler (00:07):

Fundamentally, this fiber network is a, is city infrastructure. It's important infrastructure that infrastructure's only gonna grow and it's only gonna become more valuable. And it's gonna last for decades.

Christopher Mitchell (00:20):

Welcome to another episode of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. I'm Christopher Mitchell at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in Saint Paul, Minnesota, just back after a whole bunch of travel, but excited to be talking about the city of Hillsboro and the, the fiber network there owned by the municipality. HiLight. So we're gonna have two guests today, and I'll explain a little bit why I'm so excited, because this is a network I've long been interested in. We have Brad Nosler, the general manager of HiLight. Welcome.

Brad Nosler (00:54):

Oh, thank you, Christopher. Good to be here.

Christopher Mitchell (00:57):

And we also have Elizabeth Perrera, the Senior Customer Support. Welcome. Hi.

Elizabeth Pereira (01:01):

Thank you. Thanks for having us.

Christopher Mitchell (01:02):

So I feel like, so I've been doing this for 15 years, and I remember when the City of Hillsboro had a feasibility study that said, oh, this is not gonna work. And I looked at that and I didn't think it really provided a whole lot of, of insight. And I was, I was hoping that the city would move forward with with a little bit of a, of a plan that was perhaps that would be suitable for the city. And lo and behold, not only have you done it, now, you've been doing it for several years. So I've been waiting in the wings to bring you on until we could talk about how it's going. And I'm excited to find out. Let's let's just start from the beginning with you, Brad, and if you just wanna give us a sense of, not necessarily like that way back to the feasibility study, but generally why the city is pursuing this, and also for people who don't live in Northwest Oregon where Hillsboro is. Yeah.

Brad Nosler (01:54):

Well, Hillsboro is just west of Portland, about 10 miles or so. And it's the fifth largest city in Oregon growing and could surpass Gresham, Oregon soon to become the fourth, but we're still the fifth largest city of Oregon. It's a very kind of high tech community. actually the community has a bit of the, on both ends, we've got some of the lowest income census tracks in the state, but we also have some of the highest and, and companies like Intel. Intel has some very large campuses here in Hillsboro, as well as other high tech firms. Genetech Nikes here. Salesforce has a big office, so it, you, that's kind of the flavor of the, of the city. We have our own airport. so we've got flights coming in and out. but I will go back a little bit to the the fe feasibility study and, and my guess what you'd call maybe the beginnings.


And full disclosure both Elizabeth and I were at Comcast at that time locally, and I was particularly paying attention to what the city of Hillsboro was doing. And frankly I thought they made a wise decision when they decided to pass. after that first feasibility study as the story or history goes, it got revisited a few years later in the context of a large, very large housing development going in called, you know, in the southern part of town. crazy was named South Hillsboro. And it's, which is gonna be about at about when complete about 8,000 homes, about 20,000 addition to the population of the city. And with all that construction work and trenches open it was decided that that was a good time to move forward with the project because the construction there could be done at far less costs with, you know the trenches open as opposed to boring and drilling and, and doing the more expensive construction work. So that's when the city council revisited about 2018, they approved it.

Christopher Mitchell (04:05):

I feel like some of us oversimplify and feel like we could do it in an easy way then, right? Like when the grounds open the, the, the houses aren't yet built. It seems like we think of it as we, again, oversimplify and say easy. And I'm sure we can talk more about how there's still a lot of challenges to be overcome. There

Brad Nosler (04:21):

Definitely are, and it, it might be easier in some respects, but there's still challenges and there's still costs involved, and there's still, you know, trying to find the contractors who do the work. And, and there, those are all challenges whether the trenches are open or not. And we've experienced all those along the way. But we did move forward and we didn't start, well, we started working with the developers. They started putting in conduit and, and for us through which fiber was later pulled. But we really started most of our construction in a, some of the lower income areas of the city, which is, is kind of contrary to the way most fiber networks would get built, particularly in the private sector they'd go to where they could start generating some cash flow and, and reinvest that to further the construction. We, there was a deliberate intent to dart in the lower, lower income portions of the city, and that was done with the city's mission to increase connections within the city.

Christopher Mitchell (05:25):

Right? We saw that in in some other places too. And, and I feel like it's always worth, again, sort of that being totally upfront, there's pros and cons. It'll often increase the amount you have to borrow because you don't have the same cash flow coming in or an earlier phases of the project. And so it puts your window out of when you're gonna break even and, and that sort of a thing. Yeah. So there's, you know, it's one of those things that I feel like <laugh> sometimes decisions like that are made and, and some people understand why and it's not communicated to everyone, and that can be a challenge.

Brad Nosler (05:57):

Yeah. Yeah. And there's gonna be some financing challenges as we move forward too as we try to expand throughout the, the full city. over the last three years, we've been constructing and phase by phase, cabinet by cabinet and rolling activations along the way and launching in each of those areas. we're about 11% built by 11% of the, of the city so far, but there's a long way to go,

Christopher Mitchell (06:28):

I have to say. I mean, it's, it's interesting to me that you know, that both you and Elizabeth are from Comcast. The the community that I most associate as being similar with you is Longmont north of Denver. Yeah. Which is also quite a high tech community, but also has that, that some of that mixed environment with with lower income census areas. And so let's just pause for a second on the story. And, and I'm curious why you both decided to move over to the city.

Elizabeth Pereira (06:53):

I actually had left Comcast, so I wasn't, I didn't leave Comcast to come work at the city. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I was just, I was no longer working at Comcast. And then, you know, I heard about this job and it was just interesting because it's something that, you know, I feel like it's really good for the city and to help the community. And so I was like, okay, let's give it a try. I've been in customer care for as long as I, you know, my whole career basically. So I manage one of the cable stores for, for Comcast. So, you know, it just was a good fit for me. I, I feel,

Brad Nosler (07:26):

And Elizabeth is from Hillsboro. She lives in the community.

Christopher Mitchell (07:30):

Oh, that's always good. Yeah.

Brad Nosler (07:32):

And, and similarly, I had already left Comcast. It, so it wasn't, as Elizabeth said, a direct jump. It wa I had had some time in between and then landed here

Christopher Mitchell (07:44):

And I think are is your telephone provider Frontier?

Brad Nosler (07:47):

It was Frontier frontier sold a lot of their Northwest properties to a company called Ziply Fiber. Right. which is run by some former fo folks formally of Wave broadband. The main service incumbent service providers are Comcast, as well as Zipline Fiber both offer one gig service. So we are not breaking new ground. with regard to that. There's not been an issue of availability now in terms of, you could make an argument. there's been that we offer a different affordability mm-hmm. <affirmative> consideration as well as our technology obviously is new, simply has all fiber Comcast doesn't, they have fiber, fiber, fiber to node design. but we we're 100% fiber broadband with and we're offering some speeds beyond one gig, not, and most people just find one gig completely satisfactory. But competitively with simply and Comcast we do pretty well in terms of quality of service as well as portability.

Christopher Mitchell (09:00):

And just to, to close the loop. The the other difference with Longmont is that several of the people running Longmont are from CenturyLink's team previously. Yeah. So <laugh> certainly, you know, I mean, there's not a huge world of people in telecommunications. so <laugh> a lot of come from those companies.

Brad Nosler (09:18):

Yeah. I, I think, and it's wise for small fiber operations that are just starting up to really kind of look for people within in private industry experience it certainly served us well. Besides Elizabeth and I, we have a small team, all of us, but one came from Comcast, we've got it. It helped us in devising our, our coming up with our policies and practices and, and daily operations. and so that, I think that's, that background has served us very well.

Christopher Mitchell (09:49):

And so, if I understood then you've been building for three years, you've got 11% of passing of 11% of the, of the city.

Brad Nosler (09:57):

That's correct. Yeah.

Christopher Mitchell (09:58):

and so how many that's I'm presumed that those are the, where people can take service and and so I'm curious, what are the, some of the results, how are people responding to the service that's available? And this is this is where I always love to hear things, some of the stories of just like, you know, that probably Elizabeth is collecting <laugh>.

Brad Nosler (10:18):

Yeah. And I, I'll, I'll let Elizabeth touch on some of those stories as well as kind of the customer satisfaction piece. And I'll just say that from a growth standpoint, you know, we're not growing as rapidly as we had hoped. you know, we're about 10% about 12% residential, about 9% in commercial in terms of market share. that's gonna grow in areas where we've been for o over a year. cuz we're constantly rolling, so adding mm-hmm. <affirmative> more homes to the denominator of that equation. But in areas that we've been for more than a year or about 15% in our very first phase, we're about 18%. And so yeah, we, we hope to get about 15 and then possibly extend that over time to 20%.

Christopher Mitchell (11:05):

Well, we'll, we'll jump into that in a second, but I would guess you're not doing a full on marketing blitz yet, because you would just just be angering 80% of the town that can't get it. We're

Brad Nosler (11:13):

Not marketing market. It's very targeted. Yeah. Right. We're marketing, but it's very targeting. We're growing, you know, we, we're operationally we're busy. We, you know, our team is, has a full workload each day. And I'll just beyond that standpoint, it is really how are those customers that do take our service evaluating their experience in the service. And I'll just let Elizabeth kind of touch on that.

Elizabeth Pereira (11:36):

So I think customers are really happy, they're excited that it's the city providing the service. I feel like a lot of the customers have experienced maybe not so great interactions with other companies. And so I think they're looking for something that's more personable, that they don't have to jump through hoops to talk to someone. it's someone local that they're talking to. So I think they're really liking that piece of it. And obviously, you know, the speed the fact that we're symmetrical and it's the one gig and above, right. I mean, that's, it's awesome. It's awesome. Speed. The product is great. I mean, the customers are loving it. They're, we do get, you know, a lot of customers or, you know, residents I should say that will call, and they're looking forward to getting the service, and they might be in an area that is not serviceable yet. so we do get a lot of those calls as well, where people are looking forward to getting our service.

Brad Nosler (12:27):

We don't have a big team and, and the people we are serving are right here in the community. And so I think, I know they know Elizabeth's name and our other customer service support persons, they know 'em by name <laugh>. it shows up in the comments of our surveys that it's great to be talking to local people and not having to go through a, an elaborate phone tree to, you know, some automated system. They can talk directly to us and they have confidence in that. With those surveys. We also have been doing our best to assess a net promoter score to, so that we have a benchmark and can see how we're doing and our net promoter score. Yeah. I dunno if you're familiar with it, but it measures, yeah. Yeah. Negative 100 deposit.

Christopher Mitchell (13:11):

Better to be positive than negative

Brad Nosler (13:13):

<laugh>. Yeah. But it, the maximum is positive 100, but the minimum is negative 100. They're all right around 88 to 90.

Christopher Mitchell (13:21):

Wow. Positive. That's terrific.

Brad Nosler (13:22):

Yeah, it's, it's been overwhelming. And, you know, certainly we count on word of mouth from neighbor to neighbor to vouch for us when they get us. And I think a lot of that is happening.

Christopher Mitchell (13:33):

Yeah. And I'm, one of the things that in my experience when you're doing that rollout, you do more like door to door in those neighborhoods, but it's probably harder to do since you, most of your work has been during the pandemic. So,

Brad Nosler (13:45):

You know, and during the pandemic, the roughest part of that, frankly, was our technicians who have to actually go into customers home mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And we had a whole call and, and we've, you know, had a, had people sign a release to let us come in and, you know, that kind of thing. But in terms of promoting the service, we, we do go door to door, not knocking, but we do do door hanging and to let people know it's the service is coming soon to a particular area. And then when it's available, we post that too, that it's now available. We follow that up with mailers. And so that's some of the, the targeted marketing, I guess you'd say, the, get the word out. We can't really do large scale mass advertising. We've also participated in the summers in local community events. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, there's a Tuesday night market, for example, that we, we've done several times, and that's a good opportunity to talk to people, whether they are in serviceable areas or are looking forward to it, as Elizabeth mentioned. Well,

Christopher Mitchell (14:43):

There's a couple of things that I've observed, and one of them is that the building phase you're in is usually just incredibly challenging <laugh> mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And there's things that go wrong every day. There's so much to do. You haven't generated enough cash flow to have the full compliment of staff that you will ultimately have to, to handle the workload. So it's it's definitely that that environment I'm sure of people have like you said, your days are full

Brad Nosler (15:09):

<laugh> from a construction standpoint. Yes. you know, even the city has a particular, we as the government agents, we have certain purchasing and, and procurement policies we need to follow. And trying to get more than a few competitive bids for construction has been a challenge. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> with contractors, I know with the contractors have been challenged with finding staff supply chain issues that started in the pandemic and have continued have really made ordering materials a challenge. The wait times on things like vaults or cabinets or splice closures or fiber itself, it's 6, 9, 12 months out. And that, that can be a real challenge when, you know, people, you wanna finish an area and you're missing some component between the labor and the materials. Costs have not gone down. Right. They've only gone up in some cases considerably. And, and that has also challenged that that was a, that's been a big change since those early days when that feasibility study first went out and the city sort of started considering doing this. Well,

Christopher Mitchell (16:19):

The, and the part that I feel like people might not notice, but I'm, I would guess Elizabeth is, is probably more aware of it, is that there's a bunch of things that I'm guessing Zipline and Comcast have done in response to you coming in the market that are giving people better deals than they might have if they were living over in, in Portland or in one of the other suburbs with a little less competition. you know, I, I, I'm more aware of this right now because I've hit my cap for the past three months, <laugh>, but internet access, and I'm guessing that your rivals don't have caps if they in that market. So there's all kinds of things that are probably your entry into the market has resulted in some benefits for residents in the area.

Elizabeth Pereira (17:03):

You know, it's interesting. We act, I actually, over the phone, we don't hear a lot about like the caps, right? We do hear some, but not, not very often. Most of the time, what the customers are touching on is the price is we do have some, you know, some of the competitors that their prices have gotten down, and they're similar to what we're offering. So that's about the only thing that I feel like I have noticed at least while talking to customers is the price point. Now, the speed might be different. That's the only thing, right? So they're not saving a whole bunch. And if it's somebody that might not be using the full one gig, you know, they don't care to get the one gig, then 200 meg is perfectly fine with them, and they don't care to stay at the 55 price.

Brad Nosler (17:45):

$55 for the one gig is our, that's our price. We don't have promotions, we don't have a special offer. We don't have, you know, that's our price. Whereas the comp, those competitors live off promotions.

Christopher Mitchell (18:00):

Right. Expire. So, so, I mean, I, I was just clicking over to look at your, your the residential rates that you have. And so $55 a month for one gig, and how many secret fees do you tack onto that?

Brad Nosler (18:13):

None. None.

Christopher Mitchell (18:14):

That's, and that's remarkable, but people don't always appreciate that

Brad Nosler (18:18):

<laugh>. No, it's, we try to keep it affordable and, and, and simple is the way the, they, we approached our pricing and the only thing where there's any kind of add-ons is that we do offer voice services. And of course that comes with a lot of state and federal taxes, which those are add-ons. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> but that's only for the voice service for the internet. No promotions, no extra fees.

Elizabeth Pereira (18:43):

Yeah. And that's always a, a question is how much is it for the equipment rental? It's included, it's part of it.

Brad Nosler (18:50):

Yeah. We do offer a, an optional wifi management service that includes a router but it's an actual service and it's $5 more. So if you wanted wifi from us it, the total goes to $60, but more than half of our customers use our own routers.

Christopher Mitchell (19:06):

I'm sure Elizabeth, you've looked at other areas in the region, but we, every now and then do a little survey of our data, just that we don't ha have enough time to go and collect tons of it. But in my experience $70 a month is still pretty common for gigabit or above from most providers. And so, you know, coming in at $55 a month for a gigabit as your initial offer to me it's really, it's really quite remarkable. I can only name, oh, probably less than 10 ISPs in the entire nation that are offering such an aggressive price. So you know, and I, and I know that as someone who receives Comcast marketing materials, and I can imagine Zipline I can imagine that, that if you look at a brochure, it might look better. But I mean, the man at this point, the, the motor rental fees are like in the double digits for most of these companies. The just the extra fees and things like that, they really add up to the point at which my, my frequent collaborator on, on, on a video show we do called Connect this little silly show we do, Doug Dawson, he surveys these prices and he does feasibility studies. And and he keeps talking about how we are right at the doorstep. And in some communities we've crossed the threshold where the baseline service is a hundred dollars a month when you add up all of those fees and things like that.

Elizabeth Pereira (20:21):

Yeah. Our customers really like that, that there is, you know, the fees are already included, that there's no extra attacks and franchise and all that stuff. So it's really nice. I mean, I always obviously have to tell 'em about the phone like Brad mentioned, but for the most part, mean most of our customers are internet only customers. Right. So they love that, that it's like, if you are just getting our one gig, your monthly is literally $55. So they love it.

Christopher Mitchell (20:46):

What are some of other benefits to the community? in particular, I'm curious about the one of the, the benefits that struck us right away was the low income, which again, I feel like, you know, I think you, you mentioned, I sense from you a little bit of a sense of, oh, I wish we were doing better financially, but most of the places we've seen have waited years to introduce a low income plan. You not only launched in a low-income neighborhood, you also provided a very aggressive low-income service as well. So tell us about that. Our

Elizabeth Pereira (21:19):

Bridge program, it's going slower than we'd like. I mean, we wish we were getting a lot more, you know, bridge customers signing up. I feel like recently, now that we've launched a new area it has picked up a little bit, which is nice. but yeah, the customers that, you know, call in and they're asking about the bridge service, I mean, they love it because with a lot of our, you know, some of our competitors, right? They also have a low income product that they offer, but it's the speed. It's like not even comparable to what we're offering. I mean, one gig, you know, for $10 a month is amazing. They also get the wifi management you know, with that included, and they get free installation. So it's, it's an awesome product for those customers that might be, you know, struggling financially. They can look for jobs, you know, go to, can do schoolwork, that type of stuff. So yeah, it's, it's a great product that we're offering.

Christopher Mitchell (22:12):

Yeah, it is remarkable. And I'm, I'm sure that those signups, we see that everywhere where it just takes a while to build that trust and for people to appreciate that, that sometimes people have gotten suckered into things that look like that good of a deal, but didn't turn out to be. So they become wary over time.

Brad Nosler (22:27):

We've partnered in, in to execute the program so that we're getting people qualified, that we have criteria for participating, and it's not just anybody can get it. but we've worked with three community partners that serve as verification partners, that the people go there, get their qualifications verified, and then it's pretty easy on our end. The partners just send the email over to our customer support team, and we call 'em back and get 'em signed up and connected. But the partners have been very valuable in this process.

Christopher Mitchell (23:01):

Have you sought to get reimbursed then under the acp, the Affordable Connectivity program?

Brad Nosler (23:05):

Not yet. Not yet. that's something we're discussing when that, the first version of the, a acb, I forget what it was called, the

Christopher Mitchell (23:12):


Brad Nosler (23:13):

There you go. And now it's ACP came out. We, we said, you looked at it and said, okay, it's, first of all, then it was temporary. Didn't know if it was gonna last. now it's a little more permanent, but we just said, look, $10 for one gig, that's pretty darn good. I don't know how much better the all we could do is give them a $10 credit and make it free. we're certainly aware of the acp we, but we're we came out for before that we have a very good service and haven't really felt the need to start over complicating it yet. Now I know Comcast with their internet essentials, they offer, I think it's 50 meg for 9 99, and then they will put tack on top of that, the ACP credit, and I think net it down to zero for the customer. And that's something, you know, we could look at too. But, you know, there's, again, as Elizabeth pointed out, they're, they're only at 50 meg, or the value of a one gig connection, I think it kind of justifies, well easily justifies $10.

Christopher Mitchell (24:16):

Well, that, and and there's, there's two things. One is I feel like there's a number of people for whom they don't want to get something for nothing. They want to Right. Be a part of it. And then on top of it, you would have to have a fair number of customers to actually make it worth it for you to do the paperwork of getting that reimbursement. You

Brad Nosler (24:34):

Are spot on. And that's been another one of my apprehensions about it, is just jumping into it with the administrative rules attached to it when we're already delivering something that's really string free mm-hmm. <affirmative>. and I'm not anxious to necessarily adopt the acp. Right. in conjunction with the bridge service that we're already delivering.

Christopher Mitchell (24:54):

So one of the, the last things I'd like to ask you is just sort of, I'm not going through this myself. In fact, a friend of mine keeps trying to get me into the I S P game, and I'm not, because I know how hard the work is <laugh> mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So knowing that you're both dealing with that right now, and the stresses of rolling out a system and expanding its footprint and everything else when you look at, at everything that you're doing, what makes it worth it to, to stay and, and keep doing this as opposed to finding a job that might be less stressful?

Brad Nosler (25:21):

I've never had a job that's less stressful. <laugh>

Elizabeth Pereira (25:25):

Me too. <laugh>, yeah. I, I really actually like working for the community. I mean, obviously I worked for Comcast before, and I would say that that was stressful. <laugh>. Okay. but I am not stressed. I mean, I really enjoy being able to help the community and just to hear some of those people that are signing up for like, you know, the price point and they're like, oh my gosh, I love it. Thank you for doing this for the community. You know, we do get that. So that, you know, makes, makes me feel good. So I enjoy working for the, for the

Brad Nosler (25:56):

City. And I don't live here in, in Hillsboro, but I've gotten to know the community a little bit. what makes it fun for me is the fact that we, two or three years ago, kind of got our first small group of team members together and gotten a lot of conference rooms before construction ever really got rolling and, and got to figure it out and got to apply what we'd taken from other jobs in other positions with other companies and, and build something from scratch, which not often do you get that opportunity to build something from scratch. And I think the fact that we've not only built something from the beginning, you know, that we've all had a hand in doing, but that it's working and that we're actually delivering services to, that they like starting with from nothing. I think it, it's, there's a lot of satisfaction in, in that. But the other part of this besides serving residents and businesses is fundamentally this fiber network is a, is city infrastructure. It's important infrastructure. We don't only serve those residents and businesses, but it connects city buildings. We, you know, we've got city parks connected for irrigation systems. We're connected with other local agencies like Clean Water Services in the local E 9 1 1 center, and there's a large community center and, and a big convention center that's over by the airport. And so that infrastructure's only gonna grow and it's only gonna become more valuable. And it's gonna last for decades. you know, technology does change but fiber optics is pretty you know, has a long life to it. So it's nice that we're providing an a service and an I as an issp, but it's also important I think for the communities that we're also putting infrastructure in the ground that's gonna have other applications that we can't even imagine down the road.

Christopher Mitchell (27:52):

Yes. I, I think that's so true, and that's what I get really excited about when communities are taking that step, because I do feel like we don't know what's coming next. but one of the things that, that I feel like we know is that many communities are at the mercy of the existing providers and those providers you know, I'm, I I'm not someone who talks about how terrible they are because I think in many cases they're doing a good job. but the simple fact is they have, they look at the world in a different way than the city does. And as a city builds this out, and it's paid for by people that subscribe to it, you have all these interesting things you can do in the future as new technology comes available as you wanna offer free service, you know, in different areas of town mm-hmm. <affirmative> at parks and things like that. It's, it gets pretty exciting. I think

Brad Nosler (28:37):

You're right. and I think one of the things, one of those learnings we, at least I have, I won't speak for Elizabeth or the other data managers, is really trying to recognize, understand, and appreciate the different way that the city Thanks with regard to this investment, the way that, you know, I had 34 years in on the private sector and I many a budget meeting to and understood what the values were and what the important things were. And there, in some cases, there's, there's some similarities. In other cases, it's, they come from very different pers different places,

Christopher Mitchell (29:13):

<laugh>. Right. So any last words, Elizabeth?

Elizabeth Pereira (29:15):

Just glad that you, we were able to come here and talk about, you know, what the city of Hillsboro is doing for the

Christopher Mitchell (29:21):

Community. Excellent. Yeah, and I'm, I'm excited and I hope that others are taking notice. you know, I I don't know if you ever get together for drinks with folks from Sandy, but there's great folks over there and I feel like these networks attract really interesting people. So I really appreciate

Brad Nosler (29:37):

That way. We have met with them a few

Christopher Mitchell (29:39):

Times. Yeah. Excellent.

Brad Nosler (29:41):

And also the neighboring community of Sherwood is also building out a fiber network.

Christopher Mitchell (29:46):

Oh, good. I know. They, they got started a long time ago, and then they were using it, but they weren't expanding it, but now they're expanding it again.

Brad Nosler (29:51):

Yeah. They were, their original bill was kind of more institutional in business. Now they're expanding it for residential as well.

Christopher Mitchell (30:00):

Yeah, so. Excellent. Well, I know there's a lot of other folks in Multnomah County that are hoping to see some expansion, and there's a whole political issue around that as they're working through issues.

Brad Nosler (30:09):

So they, they did a feasibility study too, and, and I again backed out and I backed down and, and frankly, like we started with talking at the beginning here, I, I don't blame them and I kind of applaud them for making what seems like a, a wise decision.

Christopher Mitchell (30:26):

Yeah. I mean, let me, so you have, let me just put it out there. I mean, in my mind, what I think you ended up doing is what I had recommended, and maybe I had putting on Rosey Glasses here, but like, I feel like a lot of these feasibility studies are like, well, how do we build out to everyone? And I think that's the wrong question. I think the question is like, if we want to make a difference, where should we target some reasonable amount of money? Not borrowing a billion dollars, but where do we target some reasonable starting place?

Brad Nosler (30:52):

Yeah, perhaps. I think though, when you talk about building a community, whether you, you talk about it, doing it immediately or over whatever period of time, you still are talking about eventually serving everybody, everybody in the community, making it a service available. So you really can't do the Google model of building out fiberhoods. You've gotta really plan to, if you're a public entity, serve the whole community. But my issue with a lot of these feasibility studies is they, they write their questions in a way to get the answer that they want to have, which is, yes, we should do this. And, and I, I, you know, like you would, if, if we could offer you a service for less money and faster you'd take it, wouldn't you <laugh>, you know? Yeah. Who wouldn't, you know, say that, but it's like, I, I have over a couple decades of paying attention to these things. I have some skepticism on that whole process.

Christopher Mitchell (31:47):

No, I, I agree with that. And I think one has to be very careful in any poll to understand which questions are being asked and how people are answering them. Yeah. So, wonderful. Well, I really appreciate both of your time, and I look forward to seeing how this rolls out.

Brad Nosler (32:00):

We look forward to continuing to roll it out, and we appreciate the opportunity to share the story so far with more story to come.

Ry (32:07):

We have transcripts for this and other podcasts available at muni networks.org/broadbandbits. Email us podcast@muninetworks.org with your ideas for the show. Follow Chris on Twitter, his handles at communitynets, follow muninetworks.org stories on Twitter, the handles at muni networks. Subscribe to this in other podcasts from I L S R, including building Local Power, local Energy Rules, and the Composting for Community Podcast. You can access them anywhere you get your podcasts. You can catch the latest important research from all of our initiatives if you subscribe to our monthly newsletter@ilsr.org. While you're there, please take a moment to donate your support in any amount. Keeps us going. Thank you to Arne Hughes B for the song Warm Duck Shuffle License through Creative Commons. This was the Community Broadband Bits podcast. Thanks for listening.