Wednesday, April 23, 2014

URA should pursue fiber-optic option

    A KURA special meeting last month addressed whether to continue funding feasibility and economic studies of the economic benefits of investing in a trunk line, state-of-the-art broadband/fiber-optics network.
    If and when the trunk lines are available (possibly three years), all commercial Internet providers have affirmed their interest in tying into the single compatible fiber-optic trunk line and from that trunk line to offer ultra-high-speed telecom and Internet to their respective customers. Barring the trunk line, each of the commercial providers will have a decision to make: run their own fiber-optic networks or leave Ketchum as is with limited service.
    I happened to stumble into that meeting and found the discussion fascinating, if a bit technical. If the KURA’s mission is to encourage economic development, if the KURA’s annual gross (not net) revenues approximate $500,000, and if future revenues will be derived from incremental taxes, then it makes all the sense in the world that providing ultra-high-speed fiber-optic access will encourage businesses with a need for speed to consider Ketchum and the Wood River Valley as a viable location. Increased economic activity equals increased tax revenues, which equals a viable Ketchum and KURA. That is all good.
    There is no way that the commitment of scarce KURA resources to a tiny, expensive and controversial affordable-housing project will provide a commensurate return to the community.
    I’d encourage the commitment of funds to understand the fiber-optic “option.” It is an “option” because the KURA cannot accomplish every one of its objectives.
Douglas A. Kaiser

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