Orchard City won't host meeting to promote DMEA plan
By Hank Lohmeyer
Published Thursday, July 21, 2016 8:25 am
The Orchard City trustees at their regular monthly meeting on July 13 declined an offer to host a community event promoting DMEA's broadband business project. However, explained Mayor Ken Volgamore, there is no problem if private individuals want to rent the community room and stage a promotion on their own.
Mike Gage of Orchard City suggested to trustees during constituent time at the July meeting that the town could sponsor a community event to inform local residents about the DMEA broadband project. Gage is an enthusiastic supporter of broadband service in Orchard City and believes it will bring many benefits to the town.
Volgamore explained that trustees had discussed the idea of hosting such an event but had rejected it. The reason is that DMEA's broadband project is a business enterprise which is in direct competition with private sector suppliers of broadband internet services, known as ISPs. If the town were to sponsor an event on behalf of DMEA, it would be using public assets and offices to give preference and business advantage to one ISP over all of the others.
DMEA's broadband business plan is based on density of service. It means that DMEA will bring broadband service only to local areas it identifies where at least 30 percent of households sign up in advance. If the town board were to host a community event to promote DMEA's broadband plan, it would be actively participating in the co-op's for-profit business plan at the expense of other ISPs operating in the area.
Region 10 League for Economic Assistance and Planning in Montrose is working on another broadband system that the DMEA business plan in some ways competes directly against. The Region 10 plan is backed by $10 million in public funding, but the project has been running behind schedule.
The Region 10 project was started before DMEA decided to enter the ISP market, and the two plans share some common operating facilities. The Region 10 business plan would market broadband internet access at wholesale to the private ISPs that the DMEA broadband system is competing against. An update meeting on the Region 10 plan for officials from around the county, the first such meeting since last November, was set to take place on July 19.
Gage's comments to the town board followed a presentation by Virginia Harman, manager of member relations and human resources for DMEA. She had told the trustees about DMEA's plans for broadband service in the town and had promotional materials on the project to distribute.
Gage told the town trustees that he has contacted others in town who would donate money to stage the event he suggested, and he told the Delta County Independent that he would begin working toward doing so.