Dozens of citizens attended the Ames City Council last night to hear city staff and council members discuss options for improving broadband services. And after hearing feedback from the community, the council decided to research the costs of a feasibility study for a fiber network.
Ames is a central Iowa community of around 60,000 residents and is home to Iowa State University. The city is currently served mostly by incumbent cable company Mediacom and telephone company CenturyLink.
A staff report prepared for the Council outlined the various options for bringing better internet service to the community, including the same retail model that has been implemented by other communities in Iowa and elsewhere. The report was also critical of incumbent operators CenturyLink and Mediacom for not responding to requests for information about what services are available where as part of the City's attempt to identity service coverage gaps. A representative of Mediacom was at the meeting, and had provided some maps to the council members earlier that day.
Council member David Martin, who has been an advocate for new broadband options in Ames, shared some results of some testing he has been conducting for the past 8 months on his own home internet connection. A former computer science teacher, Martin had written a computer program that conducted a speed test between his home and his neighbor every 15 minutes. Martin first showed a graph showing a day where speeds were fairly consistent. His next graph showed what he called a more typical speed profile; lots of dropouts and speed reductions. As Martin explained to his fellow council members, those were the types of issues that light internet users might never notice but that would have severe impacts on other users who need reliable and consistent connectivity.
Several citizens addressed the council to urge them to conduct a feasibility study on the costs and benefits of a fiber-to-the-home network in Ames. After hearing from the public, the council passed a motion to direct city staff to research the costs of a fiber feasibility and to continue a dialogue with existing providers about how they might improve service quality in the community.
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