Fiber For Our Future supporting Tri-City Broadband for Batavia, Geneva, and St. Charles, Illinois

Citizens of Batavia, Geneva, and St. Charles Illinois
in support of Municipal Broadband
for our Communities

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Presenter, Ed Hodges, Chairman of Fiber For Our Future

Good Evening, I would like to thank everyone for providing me the opportunity to speak this evening. My name is Ed Hodges and I’m a resident in the City of Batavia.

I would like to begin by providing a little detail about this proposal:
The Tri-Cities Broadband Initiative is the culmination of almost 10 years of research and represents a conscientious effort on the part of the combined municipal electorate for the three cities as well as the continuing effort on the part of the city staff in all three municipalities. The Cities of Batavia, Geneva and St. Charles are proposing to build a very high capacity distribution network for Television, Telephone and Data. This distribution network will be operated by employees that will be hired and supervised by the city administration and elected officials. This network will be built in our local community and all subscriber fees will stay in the local community. It will be operated as a business, much as the current electric, tri-com, sewer and water utilities.

This high capacity network will consist of a central control facility located in one of the three cities. It will use fiber optic cable to connect the control facility to every home and business location that are currently being serviced by city electric. This fiber optic network will only be constructed with the very latest in proven technology, engineering concepts and material. It will be a very robust design that will allow for ease of upgrade and long-term sustained operations. It will be capable of providing Television service to every household and business upon request.

This television service will be of the very highest quality and will be able to provide more options than are currently available by any of the competing services. The telephone service will also be of the highest quality available, again using the most viable proven technologies. Finally, the data services will currently exceed demand but as I’m sure you are aware, data requirements have been growing exponentially over the last twenty years and I’m sure you would agree that our demands for data and information will soon outstrip the antiquated telephone line delivered internet connectivity that is predominant in our market. It will also outstrip the capacity of standard and hybrid cable television based information transmission networks.

Why are we doing it?

For several years the city governments have been demanding that Ameritech and AT&T, now known as SBC and Comcast, increase their availability, support and serviceability of the marginally existing data communications infrastructure in our cities. These numerous requests were either ignored or in some cases promised but never delivered upon. This lack of response had gone on so long that eventually, something had to be done. So, the cities took it upon themselves to solve the problem. In my opinion, that is what local government is all about. That is why the cities provide electric service, water service, emergency communication services, and now telecommunication services.

Telecommunications are an essential aspect of our daily lives. Our homes and our businesses require these services. The television service we use is not just so we can watch the Sopranos or Monday night football. Essential information comes to homes via the television network. Telephones are not just for our teenagers, and as a way to chat with our neighbors. We rely upon our telephones as the most essential part of maintaining contact with our widely dispersed families and friends. We rely upon telephones to order food, receive confirmation of requested services, and in some cases, a way to store information about upcoming events and meetings. Then there is the internet. Internet services provide much more than listings of what’s showing at the local theater. It has become the Gutenberg press of our generation. Our community needs a service capacity just like the one being proposed by the municipalities and we have long term proof that we cannot consistently count on the incumbent service providers to meet those needs.

The opposition to this proposal has pulled out all the stops and has at times walked a thin line between telling the truth and providing outright lies as arguments against this proposal. They have said that there are other communities that have failed in their efforts but I have letters in my possession from the authorities in those cities that contradict those claims of failed attempts. They have said that this WILL result in a tax increase but I contend that the general obligation bonds that will be sold to fund this are in fact being collateralized by the municipal tax base. That does NOT mean that this project would be funded by taxpayer money. They have said that the services we are demanding are already in place and that no additional services need be installed. I would say that if that were the case, 74% of the respondents to recent surveys would NOT have said that they would be interested in supporting a municipal broadband utility. They say that we don’t know how to run the company. I say that there are enough former Ameritech, SBC, AT&T, Comcast, Motorola, Lucent and Sprint employees living in the Tri-cities area to run this utility quite well. They say a lot of other things but my time is limited. So let me close by saying this:

The Tri-City Broadband initiative is about providing for our citizens. It is about supplying a needed infrastructure and utility. It is about progress and maintaining our position as a viable and lively community. It is about thanking the local businesses that provide so many desperately needed jobs. It is about those same businesses that must do everything in their power to limit their overhead so that they can offer competitively priced goods and services. It is about education for our children. It is about giving those young minds the opportunity to expand their vision. It is about looking deeply into the future. It is about seeing past the opaque shields that obscure the profiteering and extortion of the modern day robber barons. It is about giving our children and our grandchildren the opportunity to succeed in life by committing ourselves to removing these obstacles of limited and narrow thought. It is about making a decision on a course of action that invites all of our citizens to come into the twenty-first century.

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