We’re are group of Decorah residents who believe the Metronet ought to be expanded so local residents and local businesses can use it.
The Metronet uses fiber-optic cables that have been installed throughout Decorah. Yet more than half of these cables are currently unused--or "dark."
Expanding the Metronet to businesses and residences in our community would lead to additional people moving to town to take telecommuting jobs. It would also improve the lives of existing residents..
Why Create a Public Utility?
The public communications utility would be a progressive move by the city that will continue to incentivize businesses and individuals to locate in Decorah.
• A public communications utility could include high speed Internet, phone and/or cable service. All decisions about the services and their operation will be locally controlled.
• With a public utility, money for internet/phone/cable services that used to be paid to out to incumbent providers will now remain in the local economy. The operation of the public utility will require high tech, local jobs to be created.
• Decorah will be able to “think big” and plan for the future. Positive results will be immediate; the longer range results will be significant. It’s the equivalent of planting a tree.
A public communications utility is the 21st century equivalent of the “rural electrification” of the nation in the previous century. A recent government study declares that Broadband is now a “Core Utility”, as important as water and electricity. It is no longer a frill but a necessity, for future economic growth and development.
Why is High Speed Internet Important?
• High quality, high speed Internet service will attract individuals that currently telecommute (work from home) for employers outside of northeast Iowa. You could consider this a “virtual industrial park” rather than the traditional brick and mortar business park. Telecommuting has risen 79% over the last 10 years and accounts for 3.2 million workers (New York Times, March 7, 2014; Census Bureau’s annual American Community survey)
• Online time is more important as households increase their device usage. On average, there are 5.8 devices (phones, TVs, computers, washers/dryers, refrigerators, thermostats, watches) per household and people spend 6 hours per day online (www.FTTHcouncil.org).
Wi-fi and satellite Internet are declining while fast fiber Internet producers are increasing in number. Download speeds and stability increase with high speed fiber Internet.
• Real estate values for homes with high speed fiber Internet service are valued 2-8% higher, and this service falls very high on a list of lifestyle choices for healthy neighborhoods.
What Needs to be Done?
93% of our community Voted Yes/Yes
A community effort to improve Internet service in Decorah won a resounding vote of endorsement in the Fall of 2015
A question asking whether the City of Decorah should be given the power to establish a Municipally-Owned cable communications or television system utility (including video, voice, telephone, data and all other forms of telecommunications and cable communications) passed in November 2015 with 1,289 "yes" votes to 95 "no" votes--a 93 percent approval.
A second question asking whether the City of Decorah should be given the power to establish a Board of Trustees for the Decorah Municipal Utilities consisting of five trustees received 1,257 "yes" votes and 116 "no" votes--a 92 percent approval.
The results gives the City of Decorah the right to continue exploring setting up a communications utility that would provide Internet, phone and television services.
How will to be Paid for?
There are different funding mechanisms available: private funds, city funds, revenue and general obligation bonds. Funding will be determined when the Decorah City Council decides to pursue the creation of a Public Communications Utility.
• Necessary loans would be paid for by user fees. If you do not use the service, you do not pay for it.
• You would pay the City of Decorah for you Internet/phone/Cable TV just like you currently pay for water and sewer.
• Waverly has issued $7 million to private investors to create their Communications Utility. They anticipate a 5 year payback; excess revenues will be given to the city. These revenues could facilitate expansion of their network, utilize funds for other projects, or even lower taxes! It takes money to make money.