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Cleveland Lights Up Internet Highway

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The 100-gigabit network will provide the fastest commercial internet capacity in the nation, according to the city. It will be operational next year in a slice of Cleveland that stretches from the Global Health Innovation Center downtown to Case Western Reserve University. Those involved say it'll put Cleveland in a unique position to serve the health and technology sector and attract new business. ideastream's David Molpus reports.

Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Dozen of cities around the country are racing to bump up broadband. Google Fiber, AT&T and other providers are rolling out 1-gigabit connections. That's about 100 times faster than what most of us have in our homes. One Community, a Cleveland based non-profit, says its new service will be a top of that trend. CEO, Lev Gonick says Cleveland will be setting the new "Gold Standard" for connectivity.

"We're going from 1 gigabit not to 2, not to 10 or 40 but right up to a hundred," Gonick says.

How fast is 100 gigabits and who needs it? One blogger illustrates it this way: With regular broadband you could download a high-def movie in just over ten minutes; with a 1-gig connection it would take just 5 seconds. One Community plans to multiply that speed by a hundred.

Consumers wouldn't likely ever need that speed and very few businesses would today but Cleveland's Director of Economic Development, Tracey Nichols, says this is about providing services for organizations and companies that are planning for the future. "We're not saying every company is going to come in and say yea I have to have 100-gig today," Nichols says, adding that "we also know everything is doubling and changing so quickly that we want to be on cutting edge." She says the new service will be an attractive asset in the competition for businesses to move to the region. "We want to say here's a place you can come and know we have the capacity already built in for a 100-gig. We're ready to go."

The coverage area runs from downtown to University Circle, and encompasses the so-called "Health-Tech Corridor." Businesses that transmit "Big Data," hospitals, health tech companies and universities are expected to be the main users. CIO of University Hospitals, John Foley, says access to the network "unlocks the door to increased innovations" and gives the city "an unparalleled edge in research and technology."

Construction of the network is to start early next year and be up and running by early summer of 2015. The Idea Center, which houses the public media organization ideastream, will be "a node...which will allow for the transmission of data...video and audio," according to CEO Jerry Wareham.

There's no word yet about customer pricing except that it will be variable. One Community says they'll have more to say about that at a news conference Friday with the Mayor and others to announce $900k in funding from federal and city government.

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