Moving Jacksonville forward
Thursday, July 23, 2020
Forward-thinking. Progressive. Ready to embrace opportunities. Jacksonville has a legacy to uphold of being a community focused on the future. Nicknamed the “Athens of the West,” historically our community has been a leader in educational, cultural and recreational opportunities. And thanks to the determination of previous city officials and business leaders, our community has benefited from valuable infrastructure updates which led to industrial development throughout the last 70 years.
Today, Jacksonville is poised to further its progressive legacy by becoming one of only a handful of cities in the U.S. to give its residents the option to subscribe to fiber broadband service directly to the home. In fact, we would be one of only a few “10-gig communities” in the nation. Should the Jacksonville City Council vote to move forward with a proposal from i3 Broadband, work could begin as early as later this summer to create the backbone for residential fiber service that would extend through every neighborhood in the city.
Why is this residential fiber service important to our community? Clearly, a comprehensive residential fiber service would improve our current telecommunications structure, giving Jacksonville residents more options for personal and work-at-home broadband needs. A positive outgrowth of increased competition generally leads to better service and lower prices for the consumer.
The Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation identified high-speed broadband service as one of the key goals of its five-year plan to strengthen this region as we work to create, attract and retain business in the Jacksonville region. And during a time when our reliance on e-learning and remote working is at an all-time high, strengthening our broadband infrastructure is of paramount importance. Furthermore, the promise to build fiber to the door in every neighborhood in the city helps promote economic inclusion to all Jacksonville residents.
In addition, high-speed broadband service is an amenity that strengthens our quality of place. As professionals who are able to work from home and young people raising a family are looking to relocate to communities that provide safety and a low cost of living, we want Jacksonville to possess a quality of life that will assist in recruiting business and workforce.
Of course, the proposal to offer fiber to each residence in the city does not come without a price tag. However, the $2.5 million investment ensures that virtually every city building will be connected to one another via 12 strands of dark fiber, backed by a lifetime free maintenance policy. And it is estimated that this investment will be paid back to consumers in out-of-pocket savings within years.
During these uncertain times, it might be difficult to understand why the City of Jacksonville would consider such a large expenditure. If we want to position ourselves as a community ready to embrace future opportunities for growth, we cannot afford to wait.
President, Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation
The mission of the JREDC is to create, expand, recruit and retain job opportunities for Morgan and Scott counties.