Fast, affordable Internet access for all.
Multnomah County, Municipal Broadband PDX, Reaching Out to Residents for Feedback, Ideas on Network
Earlier this year, community leaders in Portland, Oregon, decided to join other cities in Multnomah County to commission a broadband feasibility study. The goal of the study is to examine the potential for publicly owned broadband network options in the region. Portland's decision to join in the study strengthened the project. As the study moves forward, community leaders and broadband advocates are asking for input from citizens to determine how best to develop a municipal broadband network project.
Spreading the Word and Keeping the Public Engaged
Since their founding, we’ve followed the work of Municipal Broadband PDX, a grassroots collection of residents and businesses working to inform the community about the potential for publicly owned broadband in the region.
The group started off with a bang, by releasing a cool, nerdy video about the need to bring competition to Portland and Multnomah County. They’ve been especially diligent in keeping the public informed about County Board and City Council meetings in which the project is discussed. Their efforts at keeping the public abreast of developments have contributed to the advancement of the project.
Now that the feasibility study is being developed, Municipal Broadband PDX has organized several town hall meetings to share and inform. The goal of the meetings is to allow local elected officials the opportunity to discuss the project progress. In addition, organizers want people attending the meetings to provide “ideas, needs, and wants about Internet access.” They want to make the network a success by keeping lines of communication open and understanding the needs of the public.
The first Broadband Town Hall attracted 75 residents in Northeast Portland on December 4th. The next meeting is scheduled for December 17th in Gresham at the Multnomah County East Building, 600 NE 8th Street, in the Sharron Kelley Room A & B. Elected officials at the event will be:
- Multnomah County Commissioner Lori Stegmann, District 4 (east)
- Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson, District 3 (southeast Portland, Parkrose)
- Gresham City Councilor Eddy Morales
There will be a light dinner and refreshments served at the event and folks can reserve their places on Eventbrite. Seating is limited. If you have questions, or want to attend but need accommodations, send an email to: info(at)mbpdx.org
In early August, the city of Holland, Michigan (pop. 33,000) voted to fund the construction of a citywide, open access fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network. It’s the culmination of almost a decade of consideration, education, planning, and success, and builds on decades of work by the Holland Board of Public Works (HBPW) and city officials to build and maintain resilient essential infrastructure for its citizens. It also signals the work the community has done to listen to local residents, community anchor institutions, and the business owners in pushing for an investment that will benefit every premises equally and ensure fast, affordable Internet access is universally available for decades down the road.
Ashland, Oregon has long been a trailblazer in terms of meeting community demand for faster, more affordable broadband access. The city-owned network has also had a bumpy road—at times being branded as an example of municipal broadband failure. But the network continues to grow as it faces down an urgently-needed pivot toward a fiber-based future. Despite the current economic healthiness of the network and the clear benefits it’s brought to the community over the last twenty years, local officials are talking about divesting instead of making the financial commitment to continue the investment the city has already made.
Gainesville City Commissioners dealt a severe – if not fatal – blow to the expansion of municipal broadband in the Florida city where Gatorade was invented. Last week, five of the city’s seven commissioners voted to reject a proposal to spend $10 million of its American Rescue Plan funds to build a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) pilot project. And now that city commissioners opted not to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime infusion of federal funds for broadband, Connected Gainesville founder Bryan Eastman sees last week’s vote as a death-knell for expanding municipal broadband in the city.
Summit County, Ohio Defends Community Broadband from State Opposition and Forges Ahead with Plans to Bolster Economic Development
Summit County has put together a multi-part, $75 million broadband plan to improve connectivity in the area: a middle-mile institutional fiber ring to connect the county’s public safety facilities and expand its broadband capacity, a new datacenter, and a fiber investment to specifically target residents and businesses in the county’s underserved areas and economic activity hubs.