Commentary

Portland Floats $470-Million Muni Fiber Plan

Portland, Ore., is studying a municipal fiber proposal that carries a staggering $470 million price tag, a sum that dwarfs all previous municipal fiber proposals. By comparison, Lafayette, La., the most expensive project to date, has budgeted $125 million — and that would include a fiber connection to every home in town. Portland’s proposal just covers a backbone network, leaving the last mile to prospective “partners.” Provo, Utah has a similar set-up, but it’s spending less than a tenth — $39.5 million. That once looked like a lot of money. Even the local media, which tends to get behind projects like this, took a breath at the near-half-billion-dollar sum. The Daily Oregonian, reported that it would cost more than construction of a major league sports stadium. On top of everything, Portland is also building a municipal wireless system, so the proposed fiber system, in addition to competing with Comcast, Qwest, DirecTV and Dish Network, would go head-to-head with another city broadband initiative. Read the story here

Steven Titch served as a policy analyst at Reason Foundation from 2004 to 2013.