Save the Dates & Weigh in on Criteria for BT Sale
The clock is ticking. According to agreements reached with Citibank and Bluewater Holdings, the City of Burlington has less than four years to sell Burlington Telecom. The sooner the City completes the transaction, the more money it will will recover from the sale. The City Council will vote on criteria that will be used to determine a buyer for BT in early 2016.
At their last meeting (9/9/15), The Burlington Telecom Advisory Board (BTAB) outlined a process for gathering public input on the the criteria to be used as the City evaluates prospective owners.
You can participate in this process and help to ensure that Burlington finds the best owner for our precious municipal asset--a future-proof open network that can assure our cultural and economic prosperity for many years to come.
Here are the ways you can get involved:
- October 13th (7:30 p.m. at Channel 17 Studios) - Attend an organizing meeting with activists interested in influencing the BT sale. Meet other community members interested in preserving our local municipal asset to keep it affordable, accessible, viable and pay back the citizens of Burlington the money they have already invested in this highly valuable service. Learn what more you can do and what others are saying about the future sale of Burlington Telecom.
October 22nd (5:30 - 7:00 p.m. - Room 12, City Hall) - Learn more with the BTAB about the conditions that current contracts with Citibank and Bluewater Group and the limitations these contracts place on the upcoming sale.
October 29th (12- 2 p.m.- City Hall) - BTV Ignite public event featuring two of the nation’s high profile “gigabit cities” Chattanooga and Kansas City that will showcase the innovations now underway in their communities. (You can read more about the BTV Ignite Playbook here).
November 18th (12 - 1:30 p.m.) & 20th (5:30 - 7 p.m. - Room 12, City Hall) - Two meetings to hear from the public about proposed criteria for selecting the next owners of BT and its assets.
Following those meetings, the BTAB will prepare a report, ask for public feedback and send to City Council in February, 2016.
BACKGROUND TO HELP YOU CRAFT YOUR TESTIMONY
Last year, the City of Burlington told the Vermont Public Service Board that it “aims to find a partner who will honor the existing and long term vision of BT to maximize the potential of the BT fiber optic system.” Further, the managing partners stated that the goal of Burlington is to “find the right entity to acquire the system, to continue to provide service to the City and its residents, to continue partnering with US Ignite as an economic development tool, and to provide an opportunity of a return on Burlington's investment in BT upon sale.”
Now is the right time to influence the process of how the City selects the next owner.
Given the pattern of cable consolidation over the past 30 years, the future owner of BT is likely to be a larger non-Vermont centric company. Unless we lay out clear criteria for vetting new ownership, BT's ability to offer generous amounts of bandwidth at affordable rates, and the City's ability to carry out its “next generation” community and economic development initiatives will be compromised.
We need your help developing these criteria.
Here are some important considerations as you prepare for the public meetings on 11/20 and 11/22. Ideally, prospective owners should demonstrate:
Financial capacity to purchase and maintain BT as a state of the art public asset with the potential to expand into neighboring communities.
Management experience and team familiar with systems such as BT and capable of profitably running the operation with a strong emphasis on customer service.
Commitment to continue to provide residential service.
Business model is compatible with the public benefit model of the City -- a municipal owner, and whether the City and its taxpayers will receive a proper return for their significant investment in BT.
Partnership with the City so that the citizens can retain a meaningful ownership stake in BT.
Right of first refusal permitting the City to re-acquire BT in a future ownership transaction.
Provision for the City to participate fully in strategic planning, policy and financial decision making, including right of first refusal on future sales of the system.
Cooperation with the City to preserve affordable rates.
Continued support for public, educational and government access comparable to BT’s current service.
Commitment to continued access to key features of the BT network for anchor institutions, community organizations and local businesses, realizing both the economic and social value of the network to the community and the regional economy.
Please let me know if you have any questions. We stand by to assist.
On behalf of Channel 17/ Town Meeting Television
davitian '@' cctv.org