Batavia League of Women Voters Presentation, March 18, 2003
Presenter, Ed Hodges, Chairman of Fiber For Our Future

(Comments were shortened to fit into the 7-minute time allowed, but this is the full text.)

Thank you for the opportunity to speak here tonight to present the position of the Fiber For Our Future, pro broadband citizens group.

Even though I spent six years working for one of the largest telephone companies in the country, I can’t begin to tell you what the representatives from SBC and Comcast are thinking at this hour. But, I can remind you of how they have been acting in recent weeks.

They behave as if we are ignorant or irresponsible depending on who they are talking to at the moment. In the recent telephone push surveys conducted by SBC, Comcast and OTHERS, the callers were insulting at best and at worst they fraudulently represented themselves as working for city government. Our opponents behave as if our local elected officials are incompetent. They behave as if we are taking bread out of their mouths and that their businesses are going to fail while at the same time proclaiming that they welcome competition. If they truly do welcome competition, why are they working so hard to shut this project down before it even begins?

They tell us that we do not know how to run a telecommunications business. Well, I can tell you that even though I run an Information Technology Company in the Tri-cities area I won’t say that I’m qualified to run a telecommunications company either. But I can tell you some of the things that the Municipalities will NOT have to do in order to succeed:

So, who stands to benefit from this utility in Batavia?

All of the opponent advertising about this referendum focuses on the residential services. One of the reasons for that is because the opponents do not focus on providing broadband solutions to businesses. Our utility will include ALL businesses. According to Dunn & Bradstreet and Harte Hanks there are over 4700 small and medium businesses located in the Tri-cities area. Over 400 of those businesses are members of the Batavia Chamber of Commerce. Our local Chamber has endorsed the Tri-Cities Broadband Utility because they believe as I do that this project represents the best chance for supporting and encouraging our local business owners. Now, a conservative think-tank organization based out of Chicago says that the promise of business incentives rarely works to bring in new business. So, let’s agree to not talk about bringing in NEW business and instead talk about those 4700 businesses that are already in the area.

Each of these businesses has an average of 8 employees. Roughly half of those employees are married. That means that approximately 56,000 people could potentially be affected in a positive way if these local businesses were able to take advantage of business class internet and telephone service provided at a much lower cost. Businesses pay exorbitant rates for these services because those prices are what the market will bear. A municipal broadband alternative will provide some viable, local competition. That means the local businesses that are already here benefit, their employees benefit, their spouses and children benefit and ultimately, our community benefits. And despite what the conservative think-tank says, I’m convinced that more new businesses will choose to locate in Batavia. Their choice will be indirectly or in some cases directly affected by the services this utility will provide.

Finally, I would like to address some of the recent arguments against this city utility raised by our opponents:

They also cite a number of communities who have implemented some form of a municipal broadband utility that have supposedly failed:

If our opposition is incorrect and misleading on all of these points, is there anything that they are saying that we should believe? I am gambling. Gambling on the integrity, honesty, accountability and due diligence of our city officials and city staff. Looks like a sure bet to me!

Fiber For Our Future supporting Tri-City Broadband for Batavia, Geneva, and St. Charles, Illinois

Citizens of Batavia, Geneva, and St. Charles Illinois
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for our Communities

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