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City says low-income residents will receive high-speed internet for as llow as $10 per month.

       Hillsboro's planned high-speed internet service is one step closer to reality.

City leaders heard a plan this week that spells out the likely prices and speeds for the municipal service.

The city is expecting to launch its high speed internet service called HiLight starting next year. The city would offer up to 1 gigabit upload and download speeds as a city utility, similar to its water or sewer services.

During Tuesday's council meeting, staff said access to 1-gigabit download speed is expected to cost residents of the city about $55 a month. Customers would have the option for in-home Wifi for an additional $5 a month. Commercial businesses would receive 1 gigabit speeds for $200 per month.

Low-income residents can receive the same 1-gigabit service for about $10 a month, the city said, including in-home Wifi.

Low-income residents are eligible for the service for any household under 185% of the federal poverty limits, and anyone currently eligible for SNAP, TANF, OHP or free-reduced lunch benefits.

The service offers several tiers up to 4 gigabits per second, faster than any other Internet service offered in the city, according to city staff.

When HiLight goes live in 2020, officials says it will be made available to the currently under construction South Hillsboro neighborhood first. Later that year, the service will come to southwest Hillsboro, an area south of Lincoln Street that includes Shute Park and neighborhoods westward. That area includes downtown, as well as Tuality Hospital and Pacific University's Hillsboro campus.

The city said the fiber network will expand northward in phases. It could take as long as a decade for it to reach residents city-wide.

City officials said access to high-speed Internet is a necessity in the 21st Century. City leaders said the best way to bring more affordable high-speed internet access to the community was to make it a city utility.

More than 80% of Hillsboro residents have Internet access, staff said, but in the city's poorer neighborhoods, such as its southwest corner near Shute Park, internet use drops to less than 58%.

Municipal internet is rare in Oregon, and Hillsboro would be the largest city in the state to offer its own internet service, though several other Portland area cities are looking into similar projects, including the city of Sherwood and Multnomah County.


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