Last week, President Barack Obama visited the Cedar Valley to highlight the City of Cedar Falls and Cedar Falls Utilities(CFU) as a leader in providing broadband service to the community. The national and international media coverage of the President has shown a spotlight on the Cedar Falls and the Cedar Valley. The Alliance & Chamber congratulates the city and CFU for this pioneering work. We also recognize the efforts of other providers to bring high speed service to the entire Cedar Valley. Read the recent blog post by CFU General Manager Jim Krieg.
President Barack Obama’s visit last week was a proud and memorable day for Cedar Falls, and most certainly for CFU. It was an honor to extend Cedar Falls’ hospitality to our President, and to be held up as an example of community broadband success.
Because of the President’s visit, people from all over the place are asking about the secret sauce. What is it that makes community broadband successful in Cedar Falls?
The answer is in the name: community. In 1994, no provider offered high speed internet service in Cedar Falls, and the phone and cable companies then serving the town had no plans to upgrade their networks any time soon. Unwilling to wait, citizens led the charge to pass a referendum that founded our community broadband service and tasked CFU with designing, building and running it.
It was a bold move and not without risk. On Wednesday the President called it visionary and ahead of its time. The referendum ballot included a $3 million bond to fund construction costs. That bond was repaid over time as our business grew.
In fact, the business boomed. The same people who voted to form CFU’s Communications Utility made it a smashing success by signing up as customers. Because of that, community broadband in Cedar Falls is fully self-supporting as a fee-for-service business.