Mayor Greg Fischer wants higher-speed Internet network in Louisv - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Mayor Greg Fischer wants higher-speed Internet network in Louisville

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Mayor Greg Fischer is looking for a vendor to build a gigabit-speed Internet network in Louisville and offering the use of city-owned rights of way to make it happen.

Such a network would be roughly 20 times faster in download speeds -- and 200 times faster in upload speeds -- than the most expensive residential service typically offered in Louisville by Time Warner Cable, 50 megabits per second.

"(A) high-speed broadband network has quickly become viewed as critical urban infrastructure, similar to electricity, water and roadways," Fischer said in a news release Thursday. "Today's current network speeds do not provide an adequate foundation to propel the city forward in a technology-based economy."

Louisville residents currently get broadband Internet service through services like Time Warner Cable and AT&T U-Verse.

Ted Smith, director of the Louisville Metro Department of Economic Growth and Innovation, said he hopes many organizations will respond the Request for Information Fischer issued Thursday, including the "incumbents" like Time Warner Cable.

Other cities trying to upgrade their Internet infrastructure have found that "either the incumbents are part of the problem, or they are part of the solution," Smith said.

He said the proposal makes it clear Louisville Metro government wants a better network and is willing to offer use of city water lines, sewer lines, alleys and other rights of way to make it happen.

"Sometimes just the signaling of our interest... changes the nature of the conversation with the incumbent," he said.

In a prepared statement, Time Warner Cable spokesman Mike Hogan said: "We're interested in learning the details of Mayor Fischer's proposal. Time Warner Cable today delivers multiple gigabit speed options to Louisville businesses and offers a wide-range of speeds and choices to city residents."

Louisville Metro is asking for a fiber network that could support a gigabit speed to residential customers, perferably through "multiple service providers" paying wholesale costs to access the fiber and then selling access to customers.

Metro government would not pay the vendor to build the network; the vendor's costs would be recovered through subscriptions from customers, Smith said.

Other super-high speed networks around the country have been able to offer service at $70 to $80 a month, he said. Currently, Time Warner Cable offers Louisville residential customers introductory one-year prices ranging from $15 a month (2 megabits per second) to $65 (50 megabits per second).

The proposal also calls for "underserved and disadvantaged residential areas" of Louisville to be offered "free or heavily-discounted" service of at least 100 megabits per second. That's roughly a tenth of a gigabit but still twice as fast as the most expensive Time Warner Cable service.

Responses to Fischer's proposal are due by Jan. 31, 2014.

The press release and the proposal can be found here.

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