Hillsboro (OR) outlines municipal fiber plans, promises internet speeds up to 4 gigs

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Hillsboro’s (OR) publicly supported internet project aims to undercut its rivals on pricing and substantially outpace them in speed. The city council has set pricing for its forthcoming service, called HiLight, offering superfast gigabit service for $55 a month. That’s about half what Comcast charges for the same speeds. Hillsboro says it will offer speeds up to 4 gigabits for $300 a month, the same price as Comcast’s 2 gig plan. The first homes will be online early in 2020, according to the city, about a year behind the initial schedule. Hillsboro says it will take a decade before HiLight reaches all neighborhoods in the city, which has more than 100,000 residents.

Cable and internet companies remain resolutely unpopular in consumer surveys. Backers of publicly funded internet say municipal projects are necessary amid the federal rollback of net neutrality protections, which require providers to treat all internet traffic equally. Yet municipal internet service has had a mixed track record in Oregon and across the country and skeptics warn that local governments are ill-equipped to compete with large telecom companies. Lake Oswego voters rejected city-backed internet service in 2016.

“A taxpayer-funded broadband network is redundant to the many providers that already serve the community,” Comcast said. “Building and operating a broadband system isn’t easy. The fact that Hillsboro is again delaying the implementation is a demonstration of the complexities of such an endeavor.”

Multnomah County is moving forward with a study of a countywide public broadband network, but the scope will be somewhat smaller than anticipated. Portland chipped in just $25,000 to help fund the research, a third of what the county had sought.

Hillsboro outlines fiber plans, promises internet speeds up to 4 gigs