Project Backer: Paul Tinkler
I am advocating the creation of a public utility that would provide internet service to Charleston and the surrounding area. This has been done, for example, in Chattanooga, TN. Chattanooga has the highest internet speed in the Western Hemisphere and provides service at a reasonable cost. According to the Washington Post, the cost to the consumer dropped from $300 to $70 per month. See link here. This has resulted in an influx of capital and talent to that city.
Charleston is already becoming known as the “Digital Harbor.” Installing high speed/ low cost fiber optic internet service would further enhance the development of our local tech industry and also serve all businesses and citizens. There is no reason Charleston should not be on par with Chattanooga.
All citizens and businesses in Charleston and the surrounding region.
HURDLES & CHALLENGES
Our legislature passed a statute in 2012 (H3508) with a vote of 95/0 at the behest of internet service providers that essentially makes this proposal impossible. Not a single legislator voted in the public interest, despite being urged to do so by the South Carolina Municipal Association, which represents cities and towns in South Carolina.
Naturally the hurdle of cost of installing the necessary infrastructure is present. Chattanooga dealt with this, in part, by obtaining federal grant money.
The City of Charleston would need the cooperation of the South Carolina legislature to repeal or modify existing law to allow this to take place. Cooperation with service providers and local technological companies and other businesses would also be needed.