What kind of internet speed would entice Estes Park residents and business owners to drop their current service and subscribe to one provided by the Town of Estes Park either by itself or in partnership with another company?
What kind of rates would be needed to attract these customers.
Just what would it take?
Take, indeed, that is the question.
And, Colorado State University Dr. Mosteller had the answers last Tuesday.
During a presentation of an internet survey she conducted on Estes Park residents and businesses, Mosteller told the mayor and town board on Tuesday afternoon that her research indicated that two different "take rate" plans should be offered to both residents and businesses. That way residents and businesses can decide which plan is best for them since residents' needs vary from household to household and business needs vary as well.
She pointed out that a residential plan for greatly improved internet speed from what is currently available, priced up to $50 a month, may prove popular. A second plan that offers 1 Gigabit service at a higher, yet competitive price, may prove popular to a different segment of residents.
Likewise, she said her survey indicated that one business plan that offers improved internet speed at a reasonable price could be popular with some businesses. She also said a second plan for much higher speed and a competitive price should prove popular with other businesses.
Mosteller cautioned the board that 55 percent of internet users in Estes Park do it as a bundled service. She said it might be challenging to get them to "unbundle" and use the faster internet service.
The good news is, Mosteller pointed out, is that take rates are increasing across the country as appetites for faster internet speeds grow.
"That's because of the evolution of technology and the evolution of smart phones," Mosteller said. "The bandwidth we use today is increasing dramatically."
The current move toward providing high speed internet in Estes Park is twofold.
First, current internet services in Estes Park are slow compared to nearby and nationwide communities.
Second, the Town of Estes Park has a fiber optic cable loop located in the community. It is largely unused. The town recently asked residents if they wanted the town of make high speed internet available to them via the fiber optic loop.
Residents voted strongly (92 percent) to support the idea of high speed internet. The town has been working with consultants about whether the town should create a fiber optic network utility within Estes Park Light and Power and/or go into a partnership with another company to provide the service.
The project, which will require an approximately $30 million investment, has yet to be approved by the town board.
In the meantime, the town has been focusing on the "take" rate and engineering design work. Mosteller's survey appears to indicate that residents and businesses would support a well-structured, two-rate plan option.
As for the engineering design work, the town was notified in April by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) that it will be receiving a $1.3 million grant from the Energy Mineral Impact Assistance Fund. That money is to be used for the detailed engineering design required for a proposed municipal broadband utility system.
Town officials have signed an agreement for the grant and are waiting for the state to sign it and send it back.