The world we live in is getting more dependent on video… even cable companies are wondering what to do about the imminent bundling of Internet and TV programming. That means that Buffalo could be left behind if a solution is not pinpointed that would deliver faster internet. Without urban FIOS, and left with the likes of Verizon and Time Warner, our offerings are limited. Even service from those providers could get worse as the city grows, and video becomes more of a staple diet for users.
Whether it’s Google Fiber (delivered at a fraction of the cost), or a municipal broadband network, a solution must be identified, especially if we are to attract and retain business operations. Recently the Erie County Broadband Committee, hosted by Legislator Patrick Burke (D – South Buffalo, 7th District) and Chaired by Ryan Slomiany, released a White Paper report that studied the possibilities of creating a municipal broadband system in Erie County.
“The lack of access, speed and affordability in our region’s consumer internet market is inhibiting the social and economic growth of our community. A municipal broadband network could be our generation’s great infrastructure project, like the Erie Canal or the Hoover Dam, an engine for economic development in our region that brings access to affordable high-speed internet,” said Legislator Burke.
Researchers studied the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in a number of other cities, as they correlated to the advancements of high speed internet advancements. The 1.1% growth was significant enough to warrant the committee to push even harder for the creation of high speed fiber networks here in Buffalo.
“This White Paper is the work of the committee to date. It outlines the need, the potential funding streams and the process for moving forward regarding a system of municipal broadband for Erie County,” Committee Chair Ryan Slomiany said. “We believe local businesses and residents deserve affordable, world-class internet speeds. This can be achieved by installing new fiber optic cabling in areas where service lapses, and fully utilizing fiber optic cables already installed as part of our infrastructure. This is a key component of future economic development in Erie County.”
In order to allow the network to work, Buffalo would need buy in from local and state educational institutions, businesses, and the government. At a time when it is obvious that there are great benefits to be had by investing in such a project, there is no doubt that the time has come to get the ball rolling on this far reaching issue.
“There is no doubt that a fiber network will need to be created at some point, we in this community need to decide whether to do it now or later, but I assure you that it will be more costly to our community in terms of money, economic growth, and social issues the longer we wait to act,” Legislator Burke added.
Essentially, by creating another independent system, the City could treat the high speed internet as a service similar to garbage or water. The prices would drop dramatically, and the fees collected would be used to maintain the system and continually improve the infrastructure.
We don’t need a stranglehold over our high speed options. What we need is a municipal offering that would allow us to get with the times, swiftly and inexpensively.
Lead image: Community Broadband Networks throughout the US – map includes citywide cable and fiber. The map is interactive, allowing the viewer to pick and choose the offerings.