BATAVIA REPUBLICAN 3-28-03
By Sara Brownell/Staff writer
Two weeks before voters head to the polls to decide whether the
Tri-Cities should implement a municipally-owned broadband system,
two opposing committees presented their sides of the issue.
A candidate's forum was held March 17 at the St. Charles Public
Library where members of the Tri-City Committee for Rational Broadband
and Fiber For Our Future debated issues of concern to residents.
Fiber For Our Future, the pro-broadband committee, also held an
informational meeting March 19 at St. Charles Municipal Building
to discuss the proposed system that, if approved by referendum Tuesday,
April 1, would provide telephone, cable and Internet services together
on one bill for residents in the Tri-Cities through a fiber-optic
network. The cities would own and operate the system like they do
with other utilities such as electric.
The same presentation was made in Batavia March 20 and Geneva March
The proposed system would extend the network to every resident
and business within the city limits for each of the Tri-Cities.
It would not include township areas.
The Tri-Cities broadband system is estimated to cost between $58
and $62 million, which would be funded by general obligation bonds,
but it would be divided among St. Charles, Batavia and Geneva based
on population and the number of users, according to a broadband
The broadband referendum does not have to be approved in all three
cities April 1 for one city to move forward on the project. The
user fees would pay off the bonds, so only those who use the services
would pay the fees.
However, Fiber For Our Future stressed the benefits of the system
even if residents do not use it.
"It keeps us on the map technologically and economically.
Even if you don't use it, people around you will. It's good for
the Tri-Cities," said John Glenn, a member of Fiber For Our
Future, who added it would bring more businesses to the Tri-Cities
because of the high-speed Internet capabilities and lower prices.
However, Don Murray of the Tri-City Committee for Rational Broadband
said the system is "doomed to failure" and taxpayers will
pay the price.
Murray said the competition would force competitors to lower their
prices, causing the system to fail.
"When you add price, competition is assured, and I am positive
rates will be lowered by the current competitors if this proposal
is passed. Then Comcast will wait until the system has failed, and
once that is accomplished, up go the rates," Murray said.
In response to Murray's comments, Fiber For Our Future states in
an informational brochure that even if competitors lower their rates,
the municipalities would win "because of its customer service,
as well as the additional future services the utility will be able
According to the broadband feasibility study, the Tri-Cities would
need to obtain 25 percent of the market share for cable, less than
4 percent for Internet and about 5 percent for telephone services
to break even.
© 2003 Liberty Suburban Chicago Newspapers