One silver lining about the pandemic: It has shined a brighter light on the necessity of broadband and pushed the issue to the forefront.
In NACo President Gary Moore’s Boone County, Ky., the Boone County Fiscal Court approved a partnership last month with Cincinnati Bell Inc. that will result in the development of a one gigabit high-speed broadband fiber network available to every address in the county. This robust fiber network will be deployed within an accelerated 24-36 month time frame. The Boone County Fiscal Court’s commitment of $13.6 million will leverage a Cincinnati Bell investment of more than $30 million to implement the project.
“Our school was doing virtual,” said Moore, judge/executive in Boone County. “They bought Chromebooks for students but what do you do with a Chromebook if you don’t have Wi-Fi? We were getting calls from parents. Providers needed to do e-health visits. Other people were working from home. So, the need for high-speed broadband catapulted to the top of our list.”
The broadband expansion will place Boone County at the technological forefront as one of the very first county governments in the nation to deliver access to one gigabit high-speed broadband service to every address in its jurisdiction. A distinctive element of this project will include a last-mile, complete fiber build-out, capable of delivering speeds of one gigabyte. This access will be delivered via a state-of-the-art “Fiber to the Premises” network (FTTP).
“Delivering access for every address in the county to high-speed service is critical in creating a high quality of life environment and positioning our county as a community of choice for residents and businesses,” said Moore. “The partnership with Cincinnati Bell will leverage significant private capital investment that would not have been made without the commitment of the Fiscal Court, solidifying our position at the forefront of economic development, innovation and focusing on the needs of our citizens.”
Under terms of the partnership:
- Cincinnati Bell will expand its fiber network and offer one gigabit Internet service to every address in the county, expanding to more than 40,000 currently unserved and underserved business and consumer addresses. These consumer addresses will include both single-family residents as well as multi-dwelling units.
- The service will be delivered under a “Fiber First” strategy that is committed to utilizing a “Fiber to the Premise” network design, ostensibly installing fiber optic cable along every mile of road right-of way within Boone County. The fiber backbone will be designed to ensure capacity that will serve all future development and technology upgrades.
- Cincinnati Bell will offer a Boone County Affinity Internet Package to every Boone County resident.
- UniCity, Cincinnati Bell’s Smart City organization, will fund $500,000 worth of improvements to Boone County’s public Wi-Fi infrastructure. UniCity works with communities to leverage technology applications that support business district vibrancy, neighborhood-based enhancements and public safety.
- Qualified K-12 students in Boone County will have access to discounted pricing programs for home-based internet as well as other subsidized broadband programs based on availability.
Moore noted that thanks to how people are working during the pandemic, “we have found the acceptance of doing things virtually and many times now, people prefer an online visit.”
“When given the option, people sometimes choose virtual,” he said.
“And we know that doing things virtually is much more acceptable, people are comfortable with it, it’s going to stay with us.”