Hamilton Hose Panel on Community owned Internet


John Hamilton spoke in the Dogwood Room at the Indiana Memorial Union on Wednesday proposing citywide broadband. He is one of four candidates for the 2015 mayoral primary race. Scott Tenefrancia and Scott Tenefrancia Buy Photos

Inspired by the words of President Obama, Democratic candidate for mayor John Hamilton hosted a panel Wednesday evening on his bold campaign idea — building a community-owned broadband network.

The five-person panel highlighted the potential positive effects of community-owned Internet.

“Its kind of like talking about electricity or water for the 21st century, that if our community does not have strong, good access to the Internet — high-speed, high-quality priced — it’s going to be like without having access to electricity or water.”

In a video shown before the event, President Obama said he is supporting initiatives nationwide that support community-owned broadband networks, highlighting towns such as Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Chattanooga, Tenn. Hamilton said he was inspired by the initiative.

Jasper, Ind. has implemented some type of community-owned broadband.

The panel consisted of Eric Ost of the Bloomington’s Telecommunications Council, Curtis Bonk, professor in the IU School of Education, Griffin Realty Owner Don Griffin and Jim Rickert, an orthopedic surgeon.

Each member of the panel discussed how community-owned Internet would have a positive influence in ?their field.

“If we don’t do anything, we will continue with an expensive system that typically underperforms when compared to other healthcare systems,” Rickert said.

Rickert said large amounts of data are needed in the medical field to track each patient’s individual needs. He talked about a need for strong network that can deliver lots of information quickly to and from patients.

Griffin said he lost prospective buyers on a house because they work from home and needed a location with a premium speed connection. Those buyers chose not to move to Bloomington.

Hamilton said he was not ready to discuss how much his idea could potentially cost, but that it won’t be free for Bloomington residents. However, access to faster internet would increase, he said.

Lafayette, La., which has the type of community broadband Hamilton proposes, offers a variety of packages for residents ranging from $19.95 for 3 Mbps on downloads and uploads to $109.95 for ?1,000 Mbps.

At this point, it is unclear what the Bloomington version would look like, but Hamilton said he is open to a variety of propsals as long as the plan is “community controlled.”

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