On June 23, Ted Bolema wrote an opinion piece regarding the August 2 fiber optic internet mileage. I would like to take this opportunity to clarify why fiber internet is an essential investment for the city of Holland.
Mr. Bolema is a board member of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The group has links and financing with large companies. Be careful when people tell you how to vote.
After:My take: How does Holland think its Internet service will succeed where so many others have failed?
Mr Bolema said we had access to “at least a dozen private sector internet providers”. If you’ve ever purchased internet service, you know that’s not realistic. In reality, people in the Netherlands often only have one company that can provide high-speed internet to their home. It’s not competition, it’s a monopolistic market, which has resulted in high prices and poor service.
The Holland Board of Public Works, a non-profit organization created to act in the best interests of its customers, would build the fiber internet infrastructure. By investing in a local utility like HBPW, residents of the Netherlands benefit from low utility rates, high service reliability and the ability to attract investment from large employers. With over 30 years of experience in building and operating fiber infrastructure, HBPW has also been providing fiber service in Holland’s city center since 2016 for local residents, schools, hospitals and employers. .
Mr. Boleman misrepresents the longevity of an investment in fiber technology. This technology will last for decades, well beyond the length of the mile. Fiber offers symmetrical download and upload speeds, which means that with this investment you will get download speeds of around 1000 Mbps and upload speeds of 1000 Mbps. That’s enough internet bandwidth for everyone in your home to stream 4K UHD video, work from home, finish homework, talk to their grandkids via Zoom, and attend a virtual healthcare session.
All at the same time.
But fiber internet cables are capable of supporting much faster speeds. Fiber cables send information by using light to transmit data along thin strands of fiberglass at nearly the speed of light. For data transfer, gigabit speeds are far from the maximum capacity of fiber cable. Recent studies have shown that a single strand of fiber can carry over 44 Tbps, which is about a million times faster than your current internet speed. The technology to support these speeds is a long way off, but fiber cables will comfortably support the capacity we need for decades to come.
So why would we get gigabit (1000 Mbps) internet speeds at home with this investment? It’s simple: most of your devices can’t yet enjoy internet speeds above 1,000 Mbps. The fastest the high-end iPhone can download data over wifi is 1200 Mbps. However, over the next few years and decades, as your devices (laptops, iPhones, etc.) adapt to faster connections, the fiber cables that connect your home won’t need to change, even if your Internet bandwidth increases. Fiber optic internet cables are as capable of handling 10 gigabit and even 100 gigabit speeds as they are of today’s 1 gigabit speeds. And that’s a big part of why fiber is so long-lasting and an investment in Holland’s future.
Projects like the ones in Utopia, Utah, and Chattanooga, Tennessee have had fantastic success for their residents. According to a Harvard study, city-owned broadband networks are generally cheaper and offer simpler pricing than private internet providers.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, the internet is an essential piece of infrastructure in our connected world. Yet, according to a study conducted by Ottawa County, 26% of households in the county do not have access to internet speeds that meet the minimum broadband connectivity standards set by the FCC. And only 15% of households have access to service of 100 Mbps or more, speeds that should be the FCC’s minimum standards according to industry experts and politicians.
After:Ottawa County Study Finds 11% of Households Don’t Have Internet Access
By voting yes on August 2, you’ll have access to 1,000 Mbps speeds and more competitive prices than what’s possible in today’s monopoly market. Fiber Internet is an essential piece of infrastructure for the economic development and future of our community. A community-owned open-access fiber optic network will provide future-proof, affordable, local service in Holland.
Vote “yes” on August 2 to support the future of Holland. Visit hollandfiber.org to learn more.
— Josh DeVries is a senior financial analyst and resident of the City of Holland.