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Cleveland Plans 100-Gigabit Local Broadband ‘Gold Standard’ Network

Cleveland, Ohio, plans to offer the nation's fastest commercially available Internet connectivity.

Cleveland, Ohio, plans to offer the nation's fastest commercially available Internet connectivity. Rudy Balasko / Shutterstock.com

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City’s partnership with non-profit, health care and academic community will create the nation’s fastest commercially available connectivity.

When cities compare themselves against one another, they often use their cultural amenities or sports teams as measuring sticks.

Cleveland is no stranger to that. But officials in the Ohio city are developing something that no other U.S. city can currently match: a 100-gigabit commercially available local broadband network.

On Friday, Mayor Frank Jackson, joined by U.S. Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary Jay Williams and various non-profit, academic and health care partners, announced plans to invest $1.02 million to create the 100-gigabit network for sections of its downtown area, the Health-Tech Corridor, Case Western Reserve University and the University Circle area.

The project was made possible through a recent $700,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and a partnership with OneCommunity, a Cleveland-based non-profit organization that works to expand broadband access in Northeast Ohio.

“With the announcement of this 100 gigabit network, Cleveland is established as a center for innovation, while providing our area businesses with a competitive advantage that will allow more job opportunities to be created for residents,” Jackson said, according to Friday’s official announcement.

“We are extremely enthusiastic about our partnership with the City of Cleveland and excited to be at the forefront of a project that is destined to become the new ‘Gold Standard’ for broadband connectivity. Consistent with our mission, we embrace 100 gigabit as a job creation engine for the City. Offering the first 100 gigabit capability, specifically in the Health-Tech Corridor, incentivizes local and national fast-growing companies to locate and remain here,” OneCommunity CEO Lev Gonick said in the announcement.

Construction is slated to start in the new year and has a target completion date of early summer 2015.

While 1-gigabit speeds are being steadily rolled out in many U.S. cities, superfast 100-gigabit speeds are still somewhat hard to fathom.

According to the Plain Dealer, which reported on Friday’s official announcement:

No one can predict the impact of 100 gigabit Internet on a business cluster because few have ever worked at such speeds before, several speakers noted.

But if speed succeeds on the Internet, Cleveland is soon to be driving the pace car.

Plans call for stringing three miles of fiber optic cable, from the Idea Center in Playhouse Square to Case Western Reserve University in University Circle, along utility poles owned by Cleveland Public Power.

Anil Jain, the chief medical officer and senior vice president of Explorys, a health care data analysis cloud services company, said the 100-gigabit network will make Cleveland an attractive destination for tech talent, according to Crain’s Cleveland Business.

“I can take the next job candidate coming here from Silicon Valley and tell him, ‘We have the first 100-gigabit network right here,’” he said. “You don’t have that in Silicon Valley.”

(Photo by Rudy Balasko / Shutterstock.com)