A preference for lowdensity housing and a rural feel have led to gaps in high-speed Internet service in Queen Creek.
Internet providers haven’t found, and probably won’t ever find, it profitable to serve the entire town unless town government steps in, a town-commissioned report found.
So a town staff committee plans to report to the Town Council by the end of the year on how Queen Creek can improve high-speed access, said Lester Godsey, the town’s information technology manager.
"Our adjacent municipalities — for example, Mesa and Gilbert — they don’t typically have problems with those services," Godsey said. "We have a lot more lowdensity residential areas, so it’s less cost-effective for (providers) to offer broadband services."
Godsey is part of the committee of town staff from various departments working to distill Queen Creek’s Internet strategy. The group is considering recommendations in a report completed this year for the town by Goodyear-based Municipal Solutions.
The report told the town that, without government intervention, "cable Internet services are and will continue to be severely limited to residential areas only and to areas with a density of homes at or exceeding 25 dwelling units per mile."
That market trend helps explain why 86 percent of the town’s businesses are online, but only 59 percent have a high-speed cable or DSL connection.
The report gives four major alternatives for addressing the issue. They include: Revising the town’s code to increase installation of underground Internet infrastructure during construction; installing a network for a partnership with the Queen Creek Unified School District; developing a town-owned wireless or fixed Internet network; or leaving things as they are.
The town is unlikely to continue the status quo, Godsey said, especially when now is the prime time to install underground infrastructure needed for highspeed Internet.
"As we do work in the road, that’s the best time to drop conduit in," he said, "because you’ve already dug up the road, and that’s the expensive part of dropping conduit."
Queen Creek is one of many municipalities across the country considering getting into the Internet business. Another East Valley community, Tempe, expects to offer citywide wireless Internet by early 2006.
Godsey said Queen Creek’s staff committee will determine whether the town’s involvement in Internet will be minimal — such as laying underground cable in rural areas to entice providers there — or extensive — like developing a townwide wireless network.
Q.C. by the numbers
• 91 percent of residents have a computer at home.
• 73 percent of residents have two or more computers at home.
• 37 percent of residents telecommute to work.
• 90 percent of residents would support a formal town commitment to improve local communications capability.
• 86 percent of local businesses are online.
• 59 percent of local businesses use a high-speed Internet connection, either cable or DSL.
• 73 percent of local businesses are willing or very willing to obtain enhanced communications services, even at a 30 percent monthly price increase.
• 78 percent of local businesses would support a formal commitment from the town to improve local high-speed communications capabilities.
Source: April survey conducted for Queen Creek by Goodyear-based Municipal Solutions