This month we are highlighting the City of Hilliard, one of Broadband Access Ohio’s founding members!
Why is it important for the City of Hillard to be part of, and lead, an organization like Broadband Access Ohio?
Local government involvement in broadband policy is essential for several reasons:
Local governments are closer to the communities they serve and have a better understanding of the specific broadband needs and challenges within their regions. Our involvement ensures that efforts are directed towards bridging the digital divide, providing internet access to the underserved, and addressing disparities in connectivity. It is our belief that our involvement ensures tailored solutions to local needs. Different communities have unique requirements when it comes to broadband infrastructure and services. Local governments can work with stakeholders to develop customized solutions that cater to the specific needs and preferences of their residents and businesses.
Through coordination and collaboration local governments can act as coordinators, bringing together various stakeholders, including internet service providers, technology companies, community organizations, and citizens, to work collaboratively towards expanding broadband access. It is critical for Hilliard to be apart of the BAO to ensure local governments continue to have the ability to participate in these activities and not be sidelined by the special interest of incumbent providers.
How does supporting community broadband and private-public partnerships advance the goals of your city?
We can encourage competition in the broadband market by creating policies that facilitate the entry of multiple providers, which can lead to better service quality and more affordable prices for consumers. The City of Hilliard’s approach has been to build a middle mile network through our business district and around the city with redundant meet me rooms for our partners. We charge no use fee for the meet me room, nor do we lease fiber or charge up front access. Our partners revenue share with us once they have secured customers and they themselves are generating income. We believe this model reduced the high capital barrier for regional ISPs to enter our market and allow them to compete quickly and efficiently.
In order to efficiently use our capital funds, we have implemented a dig-once-policy for city projects in and around the right-of-way. This policy adds fiber conduit to all projects regardless of location to take advantage of the cost savings of excavation.
We have extended our public-private partnership to extend beyond just ISPs. The creation of Hilliard City Lab allows us to partner with any company that could benefit from access to our infrastructure. From connected devices on our building and water towers to support an autonomous drone air traffic control system, to location tags on buildings to geo reference a walkable cart that evaluates our sidewalks. We believe the public-private partnership creates a robust infrastructure that attracts businesses and entrepreneurs, fostering economic growth and innovation within the city.
Extending this partnership to Hilliard City Schools we have opened doors with our private partners for internships and hands on learning. Expanding learning opportunities beyond the walls of the school will prepare our students for the jobs of the future and make our workforce future ready.
What does Hillard currently offer their citizens for broadband access / what partnerships do you support?
The City’s requires all new development, commercial or residential to include conduit as part of the development infrastructure plan. The first residential development to have access to Hilliard City fiber has begun housing construction on the west end of Scioto Darby road. Upon its completion Hill Farm will have over 260 residential units that will have multiple choices in their internet provider.
What’s your biggest concern as you work towards a more connected community?
The potential for challenges at the state and federal legislative levels continue to be of concern for all local governments in Ohio that are working to provide reliable, fast and affordable access. Attracting and retaining employers and new residents in our communities will in part depend upon the ability to control our own destiny regarding broadband deployment.
What’s next for Hilliard in the broadband world?
Hilliard City Council recently approved the completion of our connection to the remaining 12 Hilliard City School buildings that will allow them to choose one of our four local partner providers as their ISP. This connectivity will increase access from 1 gig to 10 gig with an estimated savings of over 40%. The City will continue to invest in laterals as incentives for economic development and opportunities with Hilliard City Labs. Additionally, we continue to pursue fiber to the home in new and existing neighborhoods.
We were recently named a Top7 Intelligent Community by the Intelligent Community Forum. Part of the criteria to be recognized for this global recognition is how broadband is deployed. You can read more about this announcement here: https://www.