High-speed internet a concern for Hillsboro

Internet needs in Hillsboro were the focus at the Hillsboro City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 2. Economic Development Director Anthony Roy explained the results of the survey that some residents took in order to provide information for the city to use to make decisions about pursuing new, faster options for internet.

Roy said that 239 residents filled out the survey. The majority of the people here in town are using broadband internet services such as Eagle or Century Link. The rest were using satellite or fixed wireless broadband.

“People are using internet for high broadband usage, download usage, streaming video which is very broadband heavy and sucks in a lot of data. That streaming is only going to get worse. People are going to be using it more and more,” said Roy.

According to the survey, over 46 percent spend 20 plus hours online each week.

“I was really surprised that we have nearly 11 percent of people who responded aren’t teleworking but have the opportunity to do that. That kind of tells me that if we had better access to internet, they may telework. To me that is the biggest concern I have currently is that for the average Joe our internet service is good enough but when you have people needing large download speeds and high upload speeds, that capacity just doesn’t exist currently,” said Roy.

One concern that Roy and the Council share is what the cost will be since bringing in fiber optic and faster internet will have a higher cost. Roy pointed out that the need for a better option is clear when over 70 percent expressed issues with current coverage.

“I think when Goessel put it in, it was $79 a month,” said City Attorney Josh Boehm.

Roy and City Administrator Larry Paine said the next step is to have conversations with a few vendors to begin to see what it will take to start the project.

“Hillsboro is the first town I have lived in since 1999 that hasn’t had some form of fiber optic,” said Roy.

“In economic development terms, what level of importance is this?” Mayor Lou Thurston asked Roy.

“I would say this is an eight or nine on the scale of importance. Not tomorrow, but someday in the near future, the amount I have now is going to have to be tripled or quadrupled and that is just for an individual at home. Who knows what future businesses are going to need? I don’t want us to be on the tail end of it. I don’t want us suffering because we haven’t planned for the future,” said Roy.

In other business, the council:

learned about an event planned for July 12 by the Arts and Crafts Fair committee to thank the community and celebrate this year being the 50th year of the fair. The event will be from 5:30-8 p.m. on Main street. Food and vendors will be there.

Approved the water line project payment of $56,754.15.

Approved the award of the financing bid for the new sanitation truck to Hillsboro State Bank.

Approved a resolution to authorize a waiver of the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Paine explained that the city uses a cash basis way of accounting that is different from GAAP.

Approved payment of $8,735.45 to the lawyers for the hospital case.

Approved appointment of Larry Cole and Dwight Schmidt to the Hillsboro Housing Authority Board in order to replace those who have resigned.

Were informed by Paine that a water shut down had been scheduled for part of the town for April 3-5. City workers put fliers on doors of residents impacted by the shutdown.