Cedar City officials are considering building a fiber network to provide high-speed internet as a utility to its residents.
“I come out of Silicon Valley and really believe in technology as a base for a good, vibrant and sustainable economy,” said Cedar City Councilman Craig Isom, who’s leading the conversation for the city.
Cedar City would have to look at what it would take to build its own network for high-speed internet and provide it to residents the same way cities provide sewer and water.
Isom was impressed by a small town in eastern Idaho called Ammon, near Idaho Falls, which last year rolled out something similar. Now, “almost 95 percent of households now have fiber to their homes,” he said.
A Salt Lake company called EntryPoint Networks runs a platform to help cities manage internet service providers and connect residents to their municipal network. Sales VP Devin Cox said it drove down the price of internet service in Ammon, where residents pay as low as $20 a month.
“Everywhere else in the country, they set their ISP rates by ‘what will consumers pay me?’ It has nothing to do with their costs. It has nothing to do with their profitability margins,” Cox said.
Isom believes residents, businesses and students at Southern Utah University could all benefit from something similar. Cedar City is still exploring the idea, but Isom hopes municipal fiber internet can help smaller towns bring innovation and tech companies to rural areas.
“I think any town that wants to be part of the 21st Century needs to have internet services that are likewise 21st century,” he said.