A proposal to fund a project to bring high-speed broadband service to Pikeville by raising the city’s restaurant tax by 1 percent to 3 percent was passed by the city commission Thursday.
Pikeville City Manager Donovan Blackburn gave a lengthy Powerpoint presentation which explained what he said is the crucial part of any attempts to recruit business and industry to the city or to Kentucky Enterprise Industrial Park — high-speed Internet.
“We have the intention of being able to adhere to the Google standard,” he said. “That is speeds of up to a gig at the same price I am paying for 6 megs. It is bringing in a pipe for both upload and download speeds that meet industry standards. It also creates a quality of life at home.”
Blackburn said that broadband will enable Pikeville to compete on a global level.
“It’s not because we want to download Netflix, it’s because we want to recruit industries that need to be able to upload and download a file,” he said. “Looking at broadband speeds across the globe, these are the countries that we are competing against. South Korea — their average speed per second is 24.6, (as is) Hong Kong, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Japan, Sweden, all these countries that you hear of as industrial giants. When you look at the U.S., we are at the bottom of the heap at 11.4 megs per second. In rural communities, it’s even less than that.”
The automotive parts industry, Blackburn said, is a prime example of a business that must have the fastest Internet speeds available.
“Those people do research and development,” Blackburn said. “Sending a 5 gig file, using 3G technology, would take 2.4 days to upload it, and 10 hours to download it. With cable, it would take 90 minutes to upload, and nine minutes to download. With DS3, 19 minutes to upload and 19 minutes to download. 100 megabites of fiber still takes nine minutes to upload and nine minutes to download. The majority of our communities currently have between four and 30 megabites as an average. But, with gigbit service, at the same price, would take 56 seconds to upload and download that same 5 gig file.”
Blackburn gave an holiday-inspired parallel to illustrate his point.
“In ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ Bedford Falls Savings and Loan took risk and made investments that made people grow,” he said. “In Pottersville, that money was held tight, and wasn’t reinvested back into the community.
Do we want to be Bedford falls, or do we want to be Pottersville?” Donovan asked.
After Blackburn’s presentation, the city commission voted to pass the additional 1 percent, bringing Pikeville’s restaurant tax to 3 percent.