To the editor:
Lawrence is one of the few communities in Kansas that is served by more than two Internet providers. Unlike Topeka, Wichita, Salina and Manhattan, Lawrence has a local Internet provider that isn’t the phone company or the cable company.
Our homegrown provider, Wicked Broadband, recently announced plans to bring one gigabit service to our community. None of our out-of-town providers have been willing to make this investment. This project will take Lawrence from a community where Internet service is “costlier, slower and more limited than in other comparable communities” and make it a national leader in broadband access.
In the 21st century, Internet infrastructure will be what roads were to the 1900s and rail lines were to the 1800s. Cities with advanced fiber systems are going to have stronger economies, better business environments and more opportunities for their citizens.
In its recent report, the city’s consultant indicated that building a municipal fiber system in Lawrence would cost as much as $66 million. If we can jump-start Wicked Broadband’s effort with a $500,000 grant, we are getting a very sweet deal.
As I understand it, Wicked is also installing excess capacity that will allow competitors to use the system to provide competing services. By promoting competition, the city is ensuring that the citizens of Lawrence are getting the best services possible. Just by announcing its service, Wicked forced WOW to remove its bandwidth caps. Imagine what WOW and AT&T will offer when they have to compete against an operational gigabit fiber service?