Hartsville looks into municipal broadband

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, slyles@newsandpress.net

Hartsville City Council voted at their May 12 regular meeting to study the feasibility of installing and running a proprietary municipal fiber optic cable network.

In passing Resolution 05-15-01, council agreed to pay $28,000 to Uptown Services, LLC to study the costs and opportunities involved if the city should attempt to provide high-speed “fiber-to-premises” services to city residents.

Mayor Mel Pennington spoke about the potential benefit such a network could provide, calling it an “economic development engine” that could enhance existing businesses and entice high-tech industries to Hartsville, creating new jobs.

Pennington first floated this idea shortly after his election as mayor nearly six years ago, but council voted not to pursue the plan, even after a two-year struggle with the state legislature secured Hartsville’s right to offer privately maintained broadband services. Pennington said that recent rulings by the Federal Communications Commission have eased restrictions on local government-run “fiber-to-premises” enterprises, and he cited the success of such services in North Carolina towns analogous to Hartsville.

Projected costs for this project stood around $15 million five years back, but that initial study included an expanded area of service that included Lamar. The new study would only include as potential customers those residents and businesses within the Hartsville city limits.

Author: Jana Pye

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