Jacksonville Continues Hearing Fiber Internet Options

By Benjamin Cox on May 19, 2020 at 11:35am

The Jacksonville City Council heard from another fiber optic expert last night as they continue to mull citywide broadband options. Devin Cox of EntryPoint Networks whose company built the municipal Ammon, Idaho fiber otpic network spoke to the council about a unique model that could benefit the city. “The Ammon Model” is a nationwide known broadband service model that treats Internet broadband service as a utility. Cox says it creates competition and drives the market for excellent service. “When you’re implementing fiber, the robust nature of fiber in a communication network, it makes no sense to have multiple networks. By separating the infrastructure and treating it as a utility and managing it as a utility just like your water, sewer, or road system and then letting the ISPs and other service providers compete for the subscribing business just like anything else on the open Internet, it will really drive up the performance and the rates and the speeds and drive down the costs. That’s essentially what our model does.”

Cox says that by not turning over the infrastructure over to an ISP company, the city would be able to control the service provider and the services for the city. Ward 5 Alderman Steve Warmowski says that the I3 plan presented at previous meetings presents a much more lucrative offer for the city. “Looking at the numbers that EntryPoints presents us says it will cost the city between $15-$20 million to do the project in Jacksonville. The interesting thing about the proposal from I3 broadband is that we would invest and contribute a grant $2.5 million. What the city gets from that directly is that we would get fiber Internet for all the city and community users in town like the fire department, the water department, city hall. We’d get some for downtown. We’d get some for the library. We could get all the schools in town and it might even extend to the colleges and even the MacMurray campus for its future development. There’s just a bunch of different things that we get for that $2.5 million.”

Warmowski says that the I3 investment would be paid for within 12 years time according to conversations he had with I3 representative Dan Kennedy. Mayor Andy Ezard referred the broadband initiative to the Special Studies Committee to come up with a proposal to bring before the council. Warmowski said that if the city council approves a resolution on the project that the I3 project would be started by this summer and completed sometime next year. The EntryPoint proposal has a much lengthier timeline before completion.

In other city council business, the council approved an $11,800 bid to demolish a property at 630 Hardin. They approved a resolution to extend a liquor license to Sean Meek at 68 East Central Park Plaza for a craft brewery. They also approved a 1-year lease agreement for the Morgan County Historical Society at the old post office location on East State Street so that they can house the museum and incoming historical collections. MaryJane Million was also accepted for another 3 year term on the Governor Duncan Association. The next Jacksonville City Council meeting is scheduled for June 8th.