JAMESTOWN, NY (WNY News Now) – The first meeting of the Jamestown’s Broadband Commission took place Thursday night, as members and city officials look towards getting easily accessible internet to those within city limits.
Brainchild of Mayor Eddie Sundquist, the $25 million dollar proposal would provide all within the City of Jamestown affordable and accessible internet.
“Which may seem like a lot, but really only adds about $15 to $20 dollars on your overall bill for internet service in a community like Jamestown,” explained Mayor Sundquist. “We recognize it’s a lot of money, it’s a lot of up front cost, but certainly has a incredible benefit.”
A driving factor was the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced many school aged children solely to remote education, but as Jamestown Public Schools Chief Information Officer Jessie Joy tells us, just giving kids those devices sometimes wasn’t enough.
“Three out of four students lives in a household that relies on financial assistance, to pay the rent, to purchase groceries, just to make basic ends meet,“ stated Joy. “For those students it’s very difficult to have the extra resources to pay a $75 to $100 dollar a month internet bill.”
While this is a “gray area” for the city to explore, Mayor Sundquist reminds us that city-wide electricity was also a foreign subject.
If the municipality adopts the plan, it would provide residents and businesses with a fixed cost for internet use. Out of all of the options on the table, the Mayor prefers an open access network.
“The city does what it does best, which is making infrastructure, running wires, making sure that the service is there,” explained Mayor Sundquist. “And then allowing ISPs, those Internet Service Providers, to be able to compete on a marketplace and provide that end service as well as customer service to each of our households.”
In the end, officials feel internet service is an essential part of everyday life, just like water.
“Internet access, broadband access, is as essential as electricity, as running water,“ stated Joy. “So, it is buy and large a utility, we just don’t have access to it as a utility.”
So, what’s next for the broadband committee? They have requested more information on internet access in the city. Meanwhile Mayor Sundquist will get a hold of other municipalities that have already adopted city-wide broadband.