Mayor Ted Ellis and Lee VonGunten, general manager of AdamsWells Internet Telecom TV signed an agreement Tuesday afternoon which stipulates that AdamsWells will make available “to any location within the corporate limits Internet connections with a capacity of 1 gigabit.”
The typical residence has a 10- to 20-megabit connection; some businesses have a 50-megabit connection. Ellis characterizes a “Gigabit City” as one that offers “universally available internet speeds up to 100 times faster than a typical residential broadband connection.”
While other communities have announced they are working toward such a status and have actually made what VonGunten calls “marketing claims” of having gigabit capacity, Ellis is confident that no other municipality in the state can offer this degree of high-speed Internet service to any business or residence within its city limits.
“From an economic development standpoint, this is very exciting,” Ellis said. “What we are doing is letting businesses know that we can offer this in Bluffton, and anyone who is looking to move here can get this service in their homes.”
Ellis gives a lot of credit to VonGunten’s company. “AdamsWells has shown a lot of initiative in getting this accomplished,” Ellis continued. “I talk with other mayors and they are amazed that we’re able to have an Internet service provider willing to make this commitment. While I’d like to take the credit, we couldn’t do this without the partnership of AdamsWells.”
In exchange for the commitment to provide gigabit service throughout the city, AdamsWells is receiving a five-year reduction in the “pole attachment” fees that utility companies pay the city for using city utilities-owned poles. The fee was reduced by half of its current annual rate to $5.69 per attachment.
In announcing his intent to make Bluffton the state’s first Gigabit City during his State of the City address in March to the Wells County Chamber of Commerce, Ellis noted that he felt it appropriate for the city to help in this investment.
“Not many of us will have a need for such speed today,” Ellis said. “However, those who do have such needs are often the drivers of economic growth.”
“This is one more arrow in our quiver of economic development tools,” said Wells County Economic Development Director Tim Ehlerding. “Technology capabilities, particularly what bandwidth a company will have access to, is at least as important as other utilities services,” he added.
The service will be available at a cost of $149 per month, VonGunten said. The company will also offer a 100-megabit service for $99 a month. A gigabit is the equivalent of 1,000 megabits.
High-speed Internet service continues to be a developing service. VonGunten emphasized that the 1-gigabit service will be “from Craigville to your home or business,” he explained. “We cannot control the speed at which it comes to us which isn’t always that fast, but it will continue to increase” on a regular basis. He noted that at a recent convention, some providers were already talking about offering 10-gigabit service.
He also noted that most communities have fiber optic service “come through” but “they kind of pick and choose what areas of town they go to.” He is aware of several businesses in Fort Wayne, for example, that cannot get fiber optic high speed Internet service.
“As a company, we see this as a continued investment in our community,” VonGunten said.
“When we look at what a small company can do for its community, we know we have to structure costs so we can survive but we also want to be aggressive in helping to make our community as good as it can possibly be,” he explained.
Both Ellis and VonGunten also noted that some city residents in apartment complexes and mobile home parks may not have immediate access to 1-gigabit service. “These areas are subject to the landlord’s permission,” they explained. Specifically, residents of the Bluffton Senior Apartments on Lamar Street, the Capri Court complex and Mobile Manor park were mentioned. “It can still be done but there may be some delay” to get the agreements made with the landlords, VonGunten said.
VonGunten added that AdamsWells’ “gigabit ring” actually extends outside of the city limits to 200 South and north to 250 North.
Ellis noted that the term “Gigabit City” had its genesis in Google’s effort in Kansas City to ensure universal access to ultra-high speed broadband. He said the key word there is “universal,” and he firmly believes Bluffton is the first in Indiana to accomplish that.
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