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City of Hillsboro Considers Affordable High-Speed Internet Access for All Community Members
As part of Hillsboro’s Smart City strategy, City leaders are evaluating: What would it take to ensure affordable high-speed internet access for all? What role could the City have in ensuring every resident, every business, every nonprofit and community group has affordable access to download speeds of at least 1 gigabit per second?
The City of Hillsboro already owns a fiber network that connects and serves City buildings, schools, and traffic signals. As a municipal corporation, the City of Hillsboro has established a communications utility — the administrative framework for connecting our community. In 2014, City leaders began assessing the costs, benefits, and opportunities of building a high-speed fiber network that could provide significant opportunities for additional innovations and services:
- Public WiFi throughout the community
- Faster emergency notifications
- Real-time information from utility meters
- Real-time traffic updates and parking space availability
Since 2014, the community’s need for affordable high-speed internet access has only grown. South Hillsboro was not under development when City staff began evaluations, and it offers new options for a phased fiber network development that could eventually serve all community members.
A recent City of Hillsboro code amendment enables coordination with public utilities and housing developers to ensure the installation of fiber network infrastructure — conduit, or pipe that can hold utility cables — whenever new or existing roads are dug up. This “dig once” strategy saves money and prevents digging up roads and sidewalks later.
The City continues to evaluate its role in ensuring affordable high-speed internet access for all community members, and has not made a commitment to providing internet services in South Hillsboro or elsewhere. Using conservative financial calculations, the City is doing its due diligence.
An essential utility: High-speed internet access
High-speed internet access is an essential component of a balanced and thriving community. Like water, electricity, and other public utilities, Hillsboro residents and businesses will increasingly expect high-speed access to be reliable and affordable throughout our city.
Hillsboro is the tallest tree in the Silicon Forest and the center of Oregon’s high-tech cluster. With an affordable high-speed network, Hillsboro’s homegrown talent — our students and entrepreneurs — will be better positioned to lead the world in innovating for the future. Hillsboro will continue to attract and retain talent and be a hub for innovation.
Every neighborhood matters
The City of Hillsboro must consider the question of equity. At a time when concerns about net neutrality raise questions about unfettered access to internet content, our community also has an uneasy reliance on the commercial market to determine questions of access and affordability.
Without high-speed access, community members are less informed and less equipped to thrive. Lower-income residents struggle to achieve internet and computer literacy. A level playing field requires access to information so people can learn, obtain employment, care for their wellness, and participate in their community.
Communities are building fiber networks
The City of Hillsboro has been studying the more than 80 communities across America that have built high-speed fiber networks to serve residents and businesses. In Longmont, Colorado, residents can download an entire HD movie in mere seconds using the City’s broadband fiber network at speeds of nearly 1 gigabit per second. Residents in cities that have built high-speed fiber networks can be more informed, engaged, and connected.
As the City of Hillsboro's evaluation continues, it's clear that affordable high-speed internet access would make our community stronger — and everyone deserves to be connected to this essential utility.