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Hudson -- Residents saw a message illuminated on the Clocktower on the Green announcing something big coming to the city, and the answer was unveiled July 22 at the Rotary clubs in Hudson -- Velocity Broadband.
The city will offer high-speed, fiber-optic broadband for local businesses for Internet and voice service, according to Frank Comeriato, assistant city manager, who presented the plan at the noon meeting of the Hudson Rotary Clocktower.
Council approved spending $800,000 in 2015 for the project, and user fees are built into the initial investment, Comeriato said.
The new city owned and operated utility, Velocity Broadband, is high speed Internet and voice services built for Hudson and will be introduced in phases, beginning on Executive Parkway on Boston Mills Road in September and moving to downtown in 2016 and the state Route 91 corridor, before expanding to other businesses and possibly residential areas.
The beta group is located on Boston Mills Road in the business complex with the city municipal offices, which already has fiber optic service, said Communications Manager Jody Roberts.
"Everyone is talking about it," Roberts said. "We could be the first gigabit city in Northeast Ohio."
From surveys, businesses did not have the Internet capabilities they needed, Comeriato said.
"They wanted better service and speed," he said. "After only two vendors responded to the city to offer the service, the city decided it could offer the service like it offers public power, water and other infrastructure."
Broadband infrastructure connects physical wire to designated areas, creating a network. Hudson Public Power has been training for the work, and the city has some fiber installed, Comeriato said. There will be a few HPP crews dedicated to adding the infrastructure.
Economic Development Director Chuck Wiedie said very few communities in the state can reach Gigabit Internet service, faster than any option currently available in Hudson.
"We are offering something we can't get here today," Wiedie said.
Pricing will be in tiers of premium, intermediate and standard service options, said Information Systems Manager Bill Hilbish. The contracts will be for Internet service and phone provider.
Time Warner and Windstream did not want to build fiber in Hudson because it is too small for them to invest in the infrastructure, Hilbish said. The city will have a loop in most areas and could be expandable for growth.
"You can start at low level and upgrade," Wiedie said.
Companies looking to relocate or build require high speed fiber or they won't consider the community, Wiedie said.
"Economic development is 80 percent retention, and Hudson businesses are unhappy with their current service, he added. "They want something like this."
Hudson resident James Phipps said the goal for the city should be for the service to "never go down" and emphasized quality over speed.
"This is exciting," said Michael Freedman, former owner of Hershey's. "Hudson is on the cutting edge of technology for the city."
Businesses should call 330-342-9544 to talk about the program. Residents can go online at www.HudsonVelocity.com to receive a newsletter with updates as the program progresses.