There’s been a lot of debate over whether the United States should treat Internet service as a utility. But there’s no question that Internet service is already a utility in Sandy, Oregon, a city of about 10,000 residents, where the government has been offering broadband for more than a decade.
“SandyNet” launched nearly 15 years ago with DSL and wireless service, and this summer it’s putting the final touches on a citywide upgrade to fiber. The upgrade was paid for with a $7.5 million revenue bond, which will be repaid by system revenues. Despite not being subsidized by taxpayer dollars, prices are still low: $40 a month for symmetrical 100Mbps service or $60 a month for 1Gbps. There are no contracts or data caps.
“Part of the culture of SandyNet is we view our citizens as owners of the utility,” City IT Director and SandyNet GM Joe Knapp told Ars in a phone interview. “We’ve always run the utility on a break-even basis. Any profits we do have go back into capital improvements and equipment upgrades and things like that.”