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Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland on Tuesday unveiled a program that could create affordable broadband internet access for thousands of Memphians currently living without it.

The plan, according to an ordinance, would partner the city with a private telecommunications company to install fiber optic cables to at least 6,000 properties — both residential and commercial — in Memphis.

"Memphis can become one of the most connected cities in America, where every Memphian can participate in our digital society and economic opportunity benefits us all," Strickland said in a press release. "Expanding our broadband networks will immediately transform communities throughout Memphis and equip the city to make Memphis more efficient for generations to come."

The applicant awarded the contract would have to meet a series of guidelines, and if the City of Memphis finds that the company is not in compliance with the requirements, it could remove the "Smart City Fiber Access System" designation.

That designation allows companies to pay lower fees.

Applicants given the Smart City Fiber Access System designation will have to have installed fiber optic cables to at least 20% of residences and businesses in the city and have installed cables to 10% of the low-income properties in the city within two years of construction starting.

By three years, those numbers have to reach 40% and 30%, respectively. By a year later, 60% of properties and low-income residences must be installed.

Companies that apply will have to install at least 6,000 connection points throughout the city by the end of that four-year period.

"The fiber optics system must construct at least 6,000 physical connection points at locations throughout the city, of which at least one-third shall be located within Census tracts with median household incomes less than the City of Memphis median household income," the ordinance reads.

Should the ordinance pass, City of Memphis Chief Operating Officer Chandell Ryan said it would be beneficial for more companies and residents, with the city saying in its press release that it will "incentivize investment from existing and new broadband network providers."

"This ordinance amendment will make investing in city-wide fiber networks more economically feasible for telecoms companies and will offer residents more provider choices," Ryan said.

A political action committee registered in the Washington, D.C. area, named A Better Tomorrow for Tennessee, sent a series of texts to Memphians opposing Strickland's proposal before it was formally introduced. The texts called the broadband plan "costly" and "unneeded," saying the priority for the administration should be crime and jobs.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Lucas Finton

Quelle/Source: The Commercial Appeal, 26.09.2023

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