The City of Eugene, the Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB), and the Lane Council of Governments (LCOG), with support from the Technology Association of Oregon (TAO), are moving forward with construction of the publicly owned fiber network that will connect about 120 downtown Eugene buildings to world-class internet.
This economic development project builds on the success of a two-year pilot, which brought fiber to seven downtown buildings. The pilot demonstrated the benefits of the publicly owned fiber network, partnered with private providers. Consumers are now able to choose from several internet service providers (ISPs), who are offering faster speeds at significantly lower prices than before the pilot in downtown Eugene. “We have already begun to see the positive impacts of having access to world-class internet in our community. The expansion of the fiber network will be a catalyst for the creation of local high-wage jobs, and will spur economic development opportunities around the region,” said Lucy Vinis, Eugene Mayor.
Funding for the project comes primarily from Eugene’s Downtown Urban Renewal District. In 2016, the Eugene City Council approved a plan amendment that made fiber installation within the Downtown District eligible for up to $3 million of urban renewal funds. The fiber network will be constructed by the City, LCOG, and EWEB, and will be owned by the public. Private ISPs will lease the fiber strands from EWEB and then provide services to individual businesses within the service area. Any qualified ISP can lease the fiber— it is an open-access network.
The Fiber Lighting Ceremony will take place on March 21, from 12 to 1 p.m. led by representatives from the partner agencies and elected officials. ISPs who provide service on the ‘open access’ fiber network will also be available to answer questions from the media about their service offerings. 10 Gigabit internet demos will be available on request for media. The event will take place at the Miner Building, 132 E. Broadway, which was Eugene’s first high rise building. It was recently connected to public fiber and is now home to several tech companies.
On March 21, from 5 to 7:30 p.m., the public is invited to attend the Fiber Project Launch Celebration, also taking place at 132 E. Broadway. This event will include demonstrations of 10 Gigabit internet access, from internet service provider XS Media, utilizing the ‘open access’ fiber network. The event will also be an opportunity for the community to celebrate this milestone, downtown building owners to learn more about getting connected, and tech enthusiasts to get hands on with 10 Gigabit internet access. Tickets can be purchased for $20 in advance at http://techoregon.org Ticket proceeds will benefit Springfield Education Foundation and Looking Glass Community Services.
The City of Eugene, Lane County, LCOG and TAO also partnered to purchase two fiber backbone connections to significant Internet points of presence in San Jose and Portland and plan to sublease them to any Internet service providers who want to provide retail services. This investment supercharges all of the existing publicly owned fiber in our region, connecting our schools and rural communities.
10 Gigabit is ten times faster Internet than what has been available to downtown buildings. “It’s exciting to see innovative internet service become accessible to local tech companies and anywhere the fiber network extends. This is going to have an impact throughout Lane County and even into rural areas. It’s really groundbreaking,” said Matt Sayre, Director of the Technology Association of Oregon.
Beginning in March, the City of Eugene will take construction orders from downtown building owners through their website at https://www.eugene-or.gov/3367/Fiber. Construction of the downtown network will begin in the spring and is expected to last 18 months.