This week, citizens are being asked to weigh in on their broadband connection because Solon officials are still deciding whether the city should become an internet provider for residents and businesses.
A broadband survey is being launched on the city’s website forgauge resident feedback on their current broadband connection in their home or business. The survey can be found by visiting www.solonohio.org.
A $45,000 feasibility study to explore the possibility of Solon becoming an internet provider was shelved by members of the City Council Finance Committee earlier this year, and the matter never made it to the full City Council for consideration.
The estimated cost for the project is $15 million, according to city officials.
Committee members raised objections on the endeavor, citing the time it would take to see a profit as well as the liability the city would have financially if revenue did not meet expectations. Some council members said internet service should be provided by a private industry.
Mayor Edward H. Kraus said last week that he supported the launch of this survey as more data is needed to make a determination of what direction the city should take.
“My whole goal is getting data from residents and businesses,” Mayor Kraus said. “I don’t think you can do anything without a tremendous amount of data.”
He said he understood the objections of the committee but what was lacking was “good data.”
Information Technology Director Jim Gibbs said the survey is straightforward, asking seven questions to “just take the community’s temperature when it comes to the broadband they have either at their home or their business and if they like it.”
Mr. Gibbs noted that finance committee members stated that they had heard no complaints from residents over broadband service. If you continue to tell people you cannot help them, he said, eventually people will stop calling.
“I want to re-open that dialogue and hopefully this survey is a step in that direction,” he said.
Councilman Douglas A. Magill, who favored the study and served as a member of the internal committee researching the matter, said the secret to this is “the penetration you get in the community.
“I firmly believe Solon needs to be in the lead relative to this,” Mr. Magill said, “because so much is dependent on high-speed Internet. Today, home businesses need it.” He also gave example of doctor’s offices that review radiology reports and need high-speed Internet to do so.
“In order to change the dialogue, I thought it would be useful to do a citywide survey to gauge interest of the business community and our residents,” Mr. Magill said. He would favor going back and getting the feasibility study done to help in evaluating the true cost.
“This is something we need to stay ahead of other communities on,” he said. “If we are not unique, we have nothing to compete with.”
The city of Fairlawn already is profitable in this area, Mr. Magill said, and Hudson is enthusiastic about their project and has community support.
Mr. Gibbs said the next steps will be determined by the survey’s results.
Those results will be reviewed internally with the administration and it would be up to the finance committee to bring it back to the agenda, Mr. Gibbs said.