Huntington Beach could soon enter the business of providing residents with broadband Internet access, acting as a utility, in essence, as a way to improve the city’s slow Internet speeds.
The City Council has contracted an IT consulting firm to study Huntington Beach’s broadband infrastructure. The Washington, D.C.-based CTC Technology & Energy should present the City Council with a plan to improve the city’s broadband speeds by February. The plan will either involve assisting private telecoms providers improve their service or helping Huntington Beach develop its own broadband service for residents.
A city acting as an Internet utility would hardly be a new move, says Huntington Beach Planning Commissioner and IT consultant Dan Kalmick. Santa Monica and Sandy, Ore., have already set up their own Internet services for residents at a rate competitive with private providers.
Since her election to the Huntington Beach City Council in November 2014, Barbara Delgleize has made it her mission to improve the city’s Internet service, arguing the faster connectivity would attract new businesses and make the city more efficient. Faster Internet service is an untapped resource that the city needs to make the most of, says Delgleize.
A real estate agent for 39 years, Delgleize said that the CTC’s report will mark the start of a campaign to improve Internet connectivity in Huntington Beach. Delgleize referenced who residents parked outside the Central Library to use its Wi-Fi network, and said the need and demand for faster Internet speeds was obvious.
Delgleize said she is open to improving the city’s existing broadband infrastructure to allow Internet providers like Verizon and Time Warner Cable, two of the city’s current private providers, to improve their services. She said she is also willing to create a municipal Internet service that would compete with companies like Verizon and Time Warner.
Kalmick says that private companies have not worked hard enough to improve their connectivity and that is was time for Huntington Beach and other cities to enter the Internet service provider business.
The city of Sandy in Oregon currently offers its residents Internet speeds of 100 megabits per second for about $40 a month. By comparison, Time Warner Cable and Verizon offer the same speeds to Huntington Beach for about $45 a month.
In the meantime, Google is unveiling its own high speed Internet service in many parts of the United States. The Mountain View technology behemoth debuted Google Fiber in Kansas City, Mo., in 2012. The service offers speeds of 1 gigabit, or 1,000 megabits, per second for $70 a month. With those speeds, says Kalmick, residents can run data centers out of their garages.
Alternatively, Google Fiber offers 5 megabits per second for free, although residents have to pay $300 to get Google to link the service to their homes. Although Fiber is available in Los Angeles and San Diego counties, Google has yet to announce any plans to roll out its Fiber service in Orange County.
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