Letter to the editor: Fiber optics good for Lake CountyI am writing this letter to the citizens of Lake County to help them better understand a project being taken on by our county.
I am writing this letter to the citizens of Lake County to help them better understand a project being taken on by our county. The Federal Government has put together a new stimulus package to bring fiber optics or ultra speed broadband to every home, school, library, government building and business in underserved areas of the country. The government understands that fiber optics is the future for the best Internet, video or television and phone applications. This service already exists in population centers such as New York City. Without this stimulus package it would probably be at least 10 years before fiber optics reaches Lake County.
What is fiber optics? We now have copper line going into our homes for Internet, phone and cable television. Copper is reaching its limits in speed and capacity to handle the growing needs of the information age. Fiber optics is a glass line where the signal is light not electrical. Information moves at the speed of light which is up to 1000 times faster. This means greater capacity to download or upload to your computer, and television would be ready for 3 dimensional HDTV coming in the next few years. Technology is creating more demands on the information highway and fiber optics will meet those demands for the next 30 to 50 years. Because we are an underserved county and fit the requirements for the federal stimulus program Lake County has selected National Public Broadband (NPBB), through a bidding process, to do a feasibility study and business plan to determine if this would be viable in Lake County. We are also in discussions with Cook and St. Louis Counties to determine if they want to participate.
If we have a good feasibility study and business plan how much will it cost Lake County taxpayers to move forward, build the infrastructure and hire a third party operator to run the network? The network is paid for by the network users and government funding. The taxpayers of Lake County would not be financially responsible if the network fails. To me that is one of the most important parts of this undertaking. The next money question is how much will it cost to subscribe to the new network? Preliminary information indicates that subscriber costs will be less than they are right now, not including special introductory incentive offers.
We are not the only county in the country looking at building an ultra high speed network. As part of the feasibility study to see if Lake County qualifies for the stimulus money, a phone survey will be conducted in the next few weeks to determine the interest of the citizens. If the study shows a large interest, our chances of receiving stimulus money will greatly increase.
I believe that having fiber optics in every home, school, library and government building will give Lake County a huge advantage over other parts of our country in quality of life and economic growth.
Paul Bergman, Lake County Commissioner