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big gig grants to bring lightning speed internet to west 25th, other neo hotspots



While news of the 100-gigabit pipeline servicing the Health-Tech Corridor was widely reported, the area's fiber optic network at large continues to grow byte by byte, however quietly.
 
Thus far, OneCommunity, the nonprofit on a mission to realize a sprawling fiber optic network across Northeast Ohio, and its for-profit counterpart Everstream, have installed 2,500 miles of fiber optic cable throughout 24 counties across the region. With the announcement of four Big Gig Challenge grants last month, the organization is reaching out even further than that, to both commercial and non-profit entities.
 
The four inaugural Big Gig Challenge grantees include the West 25th Street corridor, the village of Glenwillow, Lorain County Community College (LCCC) and the City of South Euclid. OneCommunity will be matching funds in the amount of 25 percent for each respective fiber optic network installation or expansion.
 
The West 25th Street project will bring lightning speed data delivery to customers choosing to tap into the new network along a four-mile stretch servicing Ohio City, Tremont, Clark-Fulton, Brooklyn Centre and Old Brooklyn. South Euclid's project will focus on the South Green Road corridor. The Village of Glenwillow and LCCC will expand their existing fiber optic networks.
Brett Lindsey 
"A business might need water, electric and gas," says OneCommunity's chief operating officer and Everstream president Brett Lindsey. "Fiber is that fourth thing they care more about than anything else because business demands it in such a significant way. Someone will move or look at one site over another based on its proximity to a fiber network."
 
Specific plans for the projects, all of which Lindsey estimates to be in the $200,000 range, are underway and should be finalized within 60 days. Subsequent construction should take three to four months. The bulk of the projects will be aboveground installations with some underground work slated for Glenwillow.
 
"By having this ubiquitous network across the region," says Lindsey; "it really is a business attraction tool for everyone. I think that's kind of been the goal from the beginning."
 
OneCommunity has earmarked $2 million for Big Gig Grants. Lindsey hopes the four inaugural projects, which were selected from an initial pool of about 12, will ignite creativity for future grant applicants.
 
"Hopefully when we roll out our next Big Gig Challenge," he says, "we'll get 20 people filling out letters of intent and we'll give 10 awards if that's possible."
 
Considering information travels approximately one thousand times faster through a fiber optic network than through coaxial cable or a DSL phone line, those grants offer endless possibilities.
 
"It's almost limitless when you consider what people can do once they have fiber," says Lindsey. "There's really no end in sight."

Read more articles by Erin O'Brien.

Erin O'Brien's eclectic features and essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and others. The sixth generation northeast Ohioan is also author of The Irish Hungarian Guide to the Domestic Arts. Visit erinobrien.us for complete profile information.
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