Newly installed “world-class” fiber internet access with speeds of up to 1Gigabit (GB) at prices as low as $100 per month is already generating excitement among high-tech companies in downtown Eugene, Oregon. The City of Eugene, Lane Council of Governments (LCOG) and the Eugene Water & Electric Board (EWEB) have partnered on a pilot project that is bringing high speed fiber optic internet access to two office buildings in the core of the city, with the hope of expanding to more of downtown in the future. On May 29th, the first connection was made between building tenants and the fiber optic cabling.
Fiber-optic lines are thin strands of optically pure glass that carry digital data over long distances at very high speeds. Fiber optics uses light instead of electricity to transmit data, allowing data to transfer more quickly and with less interference or degradation. In the 21st century, fiber internet access provides vital infrastructure to support economic prosperity and a competitive regional advantage.
The newly installed fiber optic network supports internet speeds reaching up to 1 GB per second. For comparison, with these speeds an entire HD movie can be downloaded in less than 36 seconds, 25 songs download in one second, and a TV show can be downloaded in less than 3 seconds. For local businesses, these high internet speeds allow them to compete in the global technology marketplace.
Businesses often choose to locate in areas and buildings that have the resources they need. Internet services are a critical infrastructure resource that enables businesses in Eugene to compete in the tech sector, a sector that contributes many of the region’s higher paying occupations. Eimer Boesjes, CEO of Moonshadow Mobile said, “We spent $250,000 last year in California, we can now bring those dollars back to Eugene because of our fiber Internet connection.”
Fiber optics is the latest advancement in Internet technology, and access to high-speed Internet connections helps enable growth and innovation. Matt Sayre, Director of the Technology Association of Oregon said, “This is world-class speed; things like telemedicine and advanced videoconferencing become possible. It means instantaneous access to the cloud. I’m excited to see what local innovators can do with this business resource.”
“Infrastructure like fiber optic internet access is one of the primary ways cities and states can make themselves more competitive - attracting, building and keeping businesses and jobs in our communities,” said State Representative Nancy Nathanson. “What water and power were in the last century, internet access is today.”
The City partnered with EWEB and LCOG to bring fiber through EWEB’s existing underground infrastructure and connect to its existing fiber-optic network. The opportunity to use this infrastructure and provide Internet access is offered to all Internet service providers (ISPs) in and around Eugene, so that competition can occur between ISPs, promoting higher speeds at lower costs.
The City is working with its partners to expand the service to a third building in the next fiscal year. With the success of the pilot project, the long-term goal is to identify funding sources to add fiber optic infrastructure across the downtown core and to the riverfront redevelopment area.