Spencer Municipal Utilities held an open house to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the referendum that authorized the addition of a telecommunications utility.
The referendum was approved by 91% of Spencer voters in May 1997. A local grassroots organization, ACT Now!, campaigned for a yes vote and was outspent about 10-to-1 by then-incumbent cable operator Triax Cablevision.
A year late, after a feasibility study revealed a pricetag of $16-20 million dollars for a hybrid fiber-coax network, SMU and the ACT Now group went back to work to measure community support for moving forward. After a six-week campaign, over 60% of Spencer households returned a "Statement of Support", pledging to switch their services if SMU built a system.
In July 1999, construction began on the system, with the first cable TV and internet customers hooking up in the fall of that year. Telephone service followed in August 2000 with system completion in early 2001.
Twenty years after the vote, SMU's is building again. The final phase of the utility's fiber-to-the-home rebuild is expected to be completed later this year.
Broadband Bytes News
Presented by the Community Broadband Action Network and curated by Curtis Dean.