Hamilton, Ohio, has entered into a partnership with local firm, CenterGrid, to use city-owned fiber to boost economic development. The firm will offer Internet access and data transport to local businesses via existing infrastructure as the two enter into a five-year pilot project agreement, reports the Journal-News.
The city's business incubator, the Hamilton Mill, is the initial pilot site where emerging businesses are already receiving high-speed connectivity:
“As the initial pilot site, CenterGrid’s service has resulted in the Mill receiving network connectivity that is better than 83 percent of Internet connections throughout the US — that is huge,” Chris Lawson, executive director of the Hamilton Mill said. “For the types of companies that we are attracting, this level of connectivity is imperative for them to be successful.”
A press release from CenterGrid describes rates as economical, competitive, and determined by individual business requirements. According to the press release, entrepreneurs at The Mill are already taking advantage of the service:
"We've wanted a better high-speed internet option for quite some time. Now having something locally provided by the City of Hamilton and CenterGrid makes the idea that much more appealing. This high-speed circuit will allow us to transform our IT infrastructure and deliver value to our business," said Jon Corrado, IT Director at Tedia.
In 2014, the community of Hamilton connected local schools to city fiber allowing them to obtain Internet access from the Southwest Ohio Computer Association Council of Governments (SWOCA-COG). That opportunity decreased school connectivity costs while increasing bandwidth.
City leaders hired a consultant in 2012 who determined that opening up their existing 60-mile I-Net loop to schools and businesses was feasible and would contribute to economic development. Over the course of three years, the project estimate is $4.3 million for network expansion, equipment, ongoing capital, and operating and maintenance expenses. The community is on schedule and, if all goes according to plan, expects to see positive operating revenue in 2017 and net income in 2018.
“This initiative is a new beginning for Hamilton Fiber. Using the high-speed ‘fiber grid’ to connect its business community with our Hamilton data center, we can now deliver next generation computing solutions at previously unheard of cost,” [Director of Public Utilities Doug Childs] said.
Hamilton, located near Cincinnati in southwest Ohio provides electricity, gas, sewer, and water to residents and businesses. Located on the Ohio River, the community operates an extensive hydroelectric system to provide power to its 63,000 residents.