Bethel City Offices Could Be Using Satellite Internet By The End Of 2021
On the July 27 Bethel City Council agenda will be a measure that could lead to much faster internet service for the City of Bethel. Plus, the city could start towing away junk cars for free.
Bethel City Council is expected to vote on a measure that could bring high speed satellite internet to city offices later this year. The measure would allow the city manager to sign a one-year contract with Alaska Communications. The company serves as the middleman for multinational internet satellite company OneWeb, which offers 10 to 40 times the speed of Bethel’s current internet. The city’s IT manager, Bo Foley, expects the costs to be comprable. He said that the city currently spends about $17,000 per month on internet. Foley said that city employees could start testing the new internet in a demo period later this year.
Foley said that he will be looking to see how the satellite internet fares against Bethel’s "usually horrible weather." Foley said that if it doesn’t prove to be better than the city’s current service with GCI, then the city would switch back to GCI. Foley noted that the new internet is for the City of Bethel, not for residents, but it could provide an example of how well satellite internet would work in town.
Also on the agenda, the council could vote to make removing junk cars free by extending its junk car removal subsidy program. During this year’s Clean Up Green Up, residents could apply to get their junk cars towed away forever for free; usually the cost is $300. If the council extends the subsidy program, it would permanently waive the fees for junk car removal.
Also on tonight’s agenda is a budget modification to allow more spending on Bethel City Hall renovations. The budget for the renovations contains a $150,000 contingency allotment, but the city quickly spent most of that on asbestos removal. Now the city needs to carve out an additional $59,000 to replace windows, and it wishes to add an additional $100,000 in contingency funds for other issues that could come up along the way.