LAPEER – Lapeer County Board of Commissioners voted down a broad band resolution at their October 26th meeting. The resolution was brought forward by Commissioner William Hamilton and supported by Commissioner Brad Haggadone, but was voted against by Commissioners Bryan Zender, Truman Mast, Kevin Knisely and Tom Kohlman.
The resolution was a statement that Lapeer County thinks that broadband internet is an essential service. Commissioner Hamilton who brought forth the resolution said, “the private sector has failed the community.” Commissioner Hamilton indicated that broadband was needed to help grow and expand the county.
Commissioner Kohlman stated “the idea that broadband is needed to expand and grow the county has already been debunked.” Kohlman indicated land developers know if they come to Lapeer County to create subdivisions and/or businesses, companies like Charter and Spectrum would gladly provide internet infrastructure service to these developments free of charge.
Kohlman also said, “even if we spend the $9 million to $10 million on a main network around the county, you still have to have ISPs (individual service providers) willing to sign on with us and hook up the rest of the houses, which is around $140 million dollars”.
The main broadband network is estimated to take 6-7 years to complete, which is only the first phase. The second phase, which would be connecting the rest of the homes and businesses to that network is estimated take as long as 12-15 years.
Kohlman also stated, “any business that has $140 million dollars for phase 2, has $10 million for phase 1.” Kohlman indicated that Starlink is a good option that is available to everyone in the county and the cost is $120/month.
Commissioner Mast who was not in favor of the resolution said, “so were going to take tax money from everybody, create an infrastructure and hook up a few people on it, so all of us will be paying for a service that only a small portion of the county will end up using or benefiting from, that is not very wise.” Commissioner Mast also stated that “the county will be on the hook for maintaining it” and “it will be just a huge money pit.”
Commissioner Knisely said “I’ve seen large expansions with Charter and Spectrum in the area”. Knisely also said “Everybody in my old neighborhood is happy that they have Starlink and they say they are getting good download speeds of 150-300 and they are not having any problems”.
Knisely indicated he was concerned about the timeframe of completion being close to 15 years and that it was not worth the risk to the taxpayers because the county had no way of being sure they could secure the funding to cover the costs.
Many residents have indicated they think that the broadband internet will be free once it is complete. This is not true. Residents will be charged a monthly fee like all other forms of internet.
The consensus of the board was there are multiple options already available for Lapeer County Residents and it was not wise to pursue a county wide broad band project at this time.