HOLLAND, Mich. — In less than one week, voters will decide if they want to bring fiber broadband internet to Holland.
If passed, the Holland Board of Public Works would use up to $30 million generated by this bond over 25 years to build a publicly owned, fiber broadband internet network.
“I think we’ve done our homework on this," Holland City Manager Keith Van Beek said. "Council has said this is high priority. We’ve had citizens consistently tell us they want the ability to vote on this.”
The idea has been talked about for years, but this is the first time it will be on the ballot, Van Beek said.
City leaders said this is needed because it promotes competition among internet service providers and it's more affordable and reliable for families.
“In the Holland Department of Public Works, we have an entity that provides water and sewer and in our situation they provide electricity to our residents, we really feel this is that fourth piece of critical infrastructure," Van Beek said.
If approved by voters, every home in Holland would have access to the public internet service but residents could still choose to go with a different provider.
For the average Holland home, the millage and the monthly rate would be less than $55 a month, according to the Holland Fiber website.
The need for reliable internet services was enhanced throughout the pandemic, Van Beek said.
"[Families] may have had two or three kids doing school at home...You may have had one or two parents commuting for work and then you may have a doctor consultation with a hospital," Van Beek said. "This all points in the same direction of reliable, dependable high speed internet. That’s really a critical need today but especially leading into the future.”
Van Beek said Holland has done listening tours with many groups and members of the community on the idea and received positive feedback. The city also tried out a pilot program downtown, which proved to be successful, Van Beek said.
Read more about the bond proposal here.