Q: Why is this study being conducted?
A: The Tipton City Council has consistently heard complaints from citizens over the past several years about inadequate broadband service, including slow internet speeds, frequent outages and slowdowns, and poor customer service. The City decided to conduct a study to give citizens a chance to provide feedback on the current situation with the goal of developing a plan to bring better services to the community.
Q: What are the options for better services?
A: Several options will be explored during the evaluation process. Keep in mind that these are just options; no decisions have been made and no particular option is preferred at this time.
PUBLIC NETWORK/PUBLIC PROVIDER: Tipton builds a community-owned network and establishes a new city department/utility to provide services. Two options are being evaluated as part of this study; a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network, or a hybrid fiber-wireless network where fiber feeds wireless antennas to serve end users. Iowa examples of community-owned networks include Cedar Falls, Waverly, Lenox, Harlan. Voters authorized a telecommunications utility in a 1997 referendum, with 86% of voters approving of the concept. While that vote gave the City legal authority to build and operate a utility, it may not be the best path forward.
PUBLIC NETWORK/PRIVATE PROVIDER: Tipton builds a publicly-owned fiber network and "hires" another company to provide services to homes and businesses. Iowa examples: Mapleton, Adair.
PRIVATE NETWORK/PRIVATE PROVIDER: Tipton uses the information gathered during the pre-feasibility study and other efforts to attract a new company to build its own network to serve homes and businesses. Cedar Communications (Clarence Telephone) already offers fiber optic service to some businesses in Tipton, and other providers in the area have expressed an interest in expanding their service areas if there is sufficient demand and financing options can be identified.
INCUMBENT UPGRADE: Existing providers in Tipton make a firm commitment to address the concerns identified in the study on a reasonable timeline
Q: What other towns in Iowa have built municipal telecommunications utilities?
A: Quite a few! As the map shows, over two dozen Iowa communities have invested in their own broadband networks. Some of these networks were built as early as the 1990's and many of those are currently being rebuilt to fiber-to-the-home.
In addition to the cities that have already built networks, Vinton and Adair are building networks in 2019 and Pella is expecting to build one in 2020. In each case, these communities realize that having reliable, fast, affordable broadband service is vital to their future and worth the investment of effort, time, and money to achieve better broadband for their citizens.
Q: We have a provider with gigabit internet today. What do we need with another provider?
A: Having another provider in Tipton gives consumers a CHOICE. Also, a new provider would address the reliability and customer service issues that consumers have complained about over the years.
Q: How quickly could this become outdated (too slow) and what are the existing options to update it in the future?
A: It is highly unlikely that fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP) technology will be come obsolete anytime in the forseeable future. Fiber provides almost unlimited capacity and unparalleled reliability. Other technologies, such as wireless, have significant technological challenges. The fiber optic cables themselves have a useful life of 20 years or more. Electronics and software upgrades will be necessary over time, but the core infrastructure itself - fiber - will not need to be changed.
Q: How much would services cost?
A: While it's early in the process to determine actual prices, a new provider will need to provide excellent service for a competitive price.