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By having our own electric utility, underground infrastructure and available conduit though the Board of Light and Power, the City of Portland is uniquely positioned to potentially provide superior broadband services with the same reliability that our electric customers have come to expect. Further, the City of Portland believes strongly in the free market, private enterprise and the benefit of competition to the consumer. Therefore, the City does not limit the number of service providers to our residents and should the City ultimately provide broadband services, it will be nonexclusive. While offering broadband internet service is desired among our residents, this prospect primarily lays the foundation for “smart city” concepts and infrastructure improvements related to our existing utility services for the future. The benefits go well beyond residential and commercial internet service.
In regard to the feasibility of the City providing broadband internet to its residents and customers through the Board of Light and Power, the City of Portland and HomeWorks Tri-County have been in discussions about areas of collaboration since the onset of this project. Understandably, HomeWorks Tri-County’s current priority is providing service to its existing members, but the collaboration with the City will remain ongoing with the goal of providing broadband internet service to our residents and electric customers. This partnership between the City of Portland and HomeWorks Tri-county will likely result in substantial cost savings to both entities, as well as, services being available sooner than otherwise.
Currently, there is no firm date or timeline, but the City will be diligent as we move forward. As stated above, the EPP was just completed which established a conservative estimate of approximately $4 million required for total project capital costs. While the City recognizes the demand, we must be steady and surefooted as stewards of taxpayer dollars and in no way comprise the critical essential services that we currently provide. It is further important to understand the anomaly of a municipality exploring this potential new service, the complexities and related challenges. The City will continue to work through the process and provide additional information as we move forward.