Albany plans to create a city-owned internet service

ALBANY — The City of Albany is creating a 10-person commission to examine the feasibility of creating a city-owned broadband Internet service that would compete with Spectrum and other Internet carriers available to city residents.

“Creating high-speed, reliable, affordable, citizen-owned internet service has proven to be a major economic boost in municipalities where such infrastructure exists,” Sheehan’s office said in a post seeking of members for the new council, which would serve two- year terms. “Providing this service would also be a significant benefit in all neighborhoods of Albany, especially in neighborhoods with high rates of unemployment and poverty.”

It’s unclear how the service would be funded or how it would compete with Spectrum and others on speed and price. The city’s job posting states that the average Internet download speed in the city of Albany is “just over” 20 megabits per second, which is significantly slower than speeds “up to 200 mbps that Spectrum says it can provide city dwellers for $49.99 a month.

Chattanooga offers residents a “starting speed” of 300 Mbps for $57.99 per month, though the City of Albany publication claims Chattanooga offers average internet download speeds of just 100 Mbps.

David Galin, chief of staff to Mayor Sheehan, said the Municipal Internet Service Commission will triage those claims as it researches the varying speeds and costs of internet service in the city of Albany.

“The mission of the commission is to determine the answers to these questions,” Galin said. “The pandemic has shone a light on the digital divide and its impacts on public health and safety, and it is important that we do all we can to help close the gap and ensure residents have access to high internet. affordable speed. The first step is to find residents interested in being part of this commission and undertaking this important work. »

Download speeds indicate how quickly Internet users can load programs and media onto their computers or other Internet devices. One-gigabyte download speeds are the gold standard for users working from home, though Chattanooga offers an incredible 10-gigabyte service for $299.99 a month designed for businesses or professional video gamers. Chattanooga calls it the fastest Internet service in the world.

“Establishing a successful citizen-owned Internet service would be a huge help in attracting new small businesses and new residents to Albany, which means a significant increase in our tax base, more prosperous shopping malls and would give Albany a major competitive advantage over surrounding municipalities,” says the Municipal Internet Services Commission.

The new internet council would first study “all the elements necessary for the creation of a municipal internet service and would seize this opportunity and move towards quality internet for all” before creating such a system.

A Spectrum spokeswoman said late Friday that the company’s internet speeds typically start at 200 Mbps and even its low-cost option, Spectrum Internet Assist, costs $14.99 per month with 30 Mbps speeds.

The City of Albany is asking candidates for the board of directors for their resume and letter of interest by April 30.

Correction: A previous version of this story had the incorrect number of members who will be appointed to the commission.

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