Fiber OpticsThe Next Century Cities initiative launched yesterday aims to further the availability of high-speed broadband nationwide by collaborating and sharing best practices.  Among the initiative’s 32 “inaugural partners” were several communities that already have scored major high-speed wins, some of whom shared their success stories at a launch event in Santa Monica, California that also was webcast.

Will Aycock, general manager of Greenlight, the broadband provider owned by the city of Wilson, N.C., noted, for example, that the network helped attract visual effects developer Exodus FX to locate some of its operations in the community.

And Andy Berke, mayor of Chattanooga, Tennessee, told the story of a young man who raised $25,000 to develop an online reservation system as the result of his participation in one of the events designed to showcase the gigabit network in that community, and later sold his company to Open Table for $11.25 million.

Next Century Cities
Some of the communities participating in the New Century launch event had persuaded commercial network operators to deploy high-speed broadband in their communities, while others undertook construction of their own networks. Examples of communities in the first group included Kansas City, Missouri; Raleigh, N.C.; and Austin, Texas. Examples of communities in the second group included Santa Monica; Boston; Portland, Oregon; and Lafayette, Louisiana.

Representatives of communities in the second group cited significant benefits achieved by building and operating their own networks. According to event participants:

  • The City of Boston was able to save $3 million to $5 million that otherwise would have gone to commercial service providers.
  • Several different state and city departments got together in Portland, Oregon to own and operate a network with two 10 Gbps rings. Previously some of these entities relied on T-1 connectivity.
  • Santa Monica is able to operate its network for one-third of the cost it was paying a commercial network operator and the annual savings go toward ongoing network operations and improvements.

The idea of collaborating and sharing best practices to further high-speed connectivity goals is not a new one. The Gig.U initiative targeting high-speed connectivity in university communities used that strategy successfully to help bring gigabit service to several participants.

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