A Bloomington-wide fiber network would benefit the real estate, business and technology industries, according to leaders of each sector.
Each has its own idea of what benefits a citywide fiber network might have in store for economic and residential development. Whether it’s an expectation or an essential, the general consensus is one of change.
“If we had fiber, I would say we would be one of the few towns in the country — let alone Indiana — that would have the whole town wired,” said Mike Trotzke, co-founder of SproutBox and CEO of CheddarGetter, two local tech-based companies. “That’s huge in the tech industry. That home connectivity and speed equals productivity, and that’s significant and meaningful for tech companies.
Trotzke outlined some of the technical benefits of such a system, noting how fiber can provide symmetrical upload and download speeds that allow tech startups to give as much as they demand; how fiber responds to the growing trend of telecommuting employees; and how ubiquitous broadband gives employees parallel service between work and home.
Trotzke said he supported the city’s partnership with Canadian fiber infrastructure provider Axia because of its company policies.
He said the company, which has international experience, brings both expertise and a push for universal coverage to its broadband projects. Trotzke believes Axia will want to make sure Bloomington is a shining example, since it will be the company’s first project of its kind in the United States. Axia built a version of a citywide fiber network in Massachusetts.
Mayor John Hamilton gave Axia a three-week extension for its engineering feasibility study deadline. That study is now due to be released Friday and is expected to provide cost estimates, a map and a statement as to whether Axia will go through with the multimillion-dollar project.
Should Axia pull out, Trotzke is still optimistic.
“Even if this entire thing fails, we’re already seeing the benefit here,” Trotzke said, noting Comcast and AT&T’s recent efforts at marketing gigabit speed internet in Bloomington. “The only reason they’re pushing those services here is because we’re ahead of other markets.”