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City-owned utility Velocity Broadband is growing

By LAURA FREEMAN Reporter Published: April 5, 2017 12:03 AM
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Velocity Broadband has solved its growing pains as it continues to expand.

Team members of the city-owned utility, Velocity Broadband, gave an update of its progress to Council members March 28 during a workshop. Started in 2015, Velocity Broadband has been building infrastructure with fiber above and below ground to create a network for businesses in town and provide high speed internet to those who sign up for the utility.

Providing an identification address for internet users was an issue last year, but the city now has enough of its own IP numbers which will help them make the transition to new IP schemes coming out in the future, said Will Ersing, chief broadband officer.

Another issue was supply chain for fiber products which was delaying work to connect the business district with fiber.

"We've passed that hurdle, and the supply chain has been working as it should, and we're getting materials in a timely fashion, Ersing said.

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Areas with the largest corporations are connected or have trunk lines so when they ask to be connected, the city is ready, Ersing said. The city is working to connect smaller business areas like Corporate Drive and East Main Street.

The other previous issue was a third party support call system which has been up and operational since December, Ersing said.

Some of the Velocity Broadband achievements include more than 35 miles of fiber in the ground with 30 miles to go, Ersing said.

"We're getting all our businesses connected or available," Ersing said. "The city has 104 businesses on line with another six installs on schedule, and we're talking to 50 businesses interested in the service but not committed."

Jim Stifler, Hudson's chief economic development officer, is focusing on visiting the top 30 businesses in Hudson as part of economic development and retention.

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"He's showing what our business can do for them," Ersing said.

Stifler said he's made a shift in sales focus from single business customers to the owners of buildings with multiple businesses.

"They can promote their building that it has an advantage with this technology," Stifler said. "We're paying more attention to the (internet provider) competition. It's time to make Velocity the obvious choice."

Some future options for Council to consider include becoming part of a data center with a server at a secure location in another community to provide redundancy for the larger customers, Ersing said.

While commercial providers are advertising 60/60 megabit service, Velocity Broadband can provided 100/100, said City Manager Jane Howington. The city can provide what no one else can touch, she added.

"It's (speed) going up so fast," Howington said. "Last year 25/25 was pretty cool. Now 60 is what people expect."

The reason the city began its own utility with Velocity Broadband was because local providers weren't interested (in providing high speed or partnering with the city), said Council member Dan Williams.

"We forget that three years ago we couldn't get this level from private providers," said Council President Hal DeSaussure. "Now look where we are. The turn around has been quick."

Velocity Broadband will serve the community in a positive way in future years, Elsing said.

"Because we are service providers, we can control the network and provide a level of service and tailor it to our businesses," he said.

More businesses in town, who didn't want Velocity initially, are changing their minds because of what the city can provide, Howington said.

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP


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