Springboro fiber-optic plan questioned

Springboro City Council is set to vote Thursday on up to $3.5 million in financing for a fiber-optic network. Here the council is pictured earlier this year. STAFF/LAWRENCE BUDD

City manager says Springboro not getting into internet services, just providing ‘quasi road’ for cables

On the eve of an expected vote by Springboro City Council to contract with the Warren County Port Authority for up to $3.5 million in financing for a fiber-optic network, a research fellow from the Buckeye Institute is raising questions about the plan.

ExploreSpringboro to build high-speed, fiber-optic network

Greg Lawson, who has published reports on the risks and issues related to government-owned cable networks, warned that the city or its taxpayers could be left with a large debt if the repayment plan fell short.

“You build it. It doesn’t always become a field of dreams,” Lawson said.

Springboro City Manager Chris Pozzuto said the city is “not building a fiber network to offer government run internet services to customers."

The fiber portion of the project construction is for city use only (connecting Springboro public buildings, water system, etc.), according to Pozzuto. The conduit portion is the portion that Springboro will lease or sell to private ISPs for them to offer their internet services through their own fiber optic lines to the homes and businesses," Pozzuto said.

“We are building a ‘quasi road’ for government traffic but instead of cars, it is cables traversing it. The fiber cables are for government use. As we put our fiber for government use in the ground we are making the ‘road’ wide enough so private ISPs can use the same road as us to get to customers. We will not run fiber to anyone’s home or any business. We will run fiber to government owned buildings and water and sewer stations to ensure safe drinking water and the like which the report says we should focus on,” Pozzuto said.

“We agree that private enterprise can provide internet services much better than government can, which is why we are not building a government-owned broadband network.”

Lawson said Springboro’s plan could hamper existing providers or delay them in bringing new innovations to the city. He also questioned the timing of the plan, while some residents and businesses were struggling through the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is conceivable it could work out,” said Lawson, who specializes on education and technology issues for the conservative think tank.

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The council meets in work session at 6 p.m. and in formal session at 7 p.m. today at city hall, 320 W. Central Ave. (Ohio 73 in Springboro).

Credit: Lawrence Budd

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