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Eric Frederick

Onlight Aurora, Most Advanced Illinois Gigabit Communities Awardee, Shows How to Leverage Its Fiber Network

in Fiber/Gigabit Networks/Public Safety by

AURORA, ILLINOIS, November 5, 2013 – Just over a year ago, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced the first of four awards under the state’s “Gigabit Communities Challenge,” an effort to raise the bar on broadband speeds in the nation’s heartland.

Of the four awardees named thus far, the Gigabit Network created by Onlight Aurora here is perhaps the most advanced. This is owing to a unique public-private partnership in the state’s second-largest city.

Other awardees in Illinois are Gigabit Squared and the University of Chicago; the City of Evanston and Northwest University; and Frontier Communications, Connect Southern Illinois and Southern Illinois University.

But the example of Onlight Aurora provides an important window into the way Gigabit Networks can help a multiplicity of purposes. These include government cost-savings, traffic solutions, and economic development options for business retention and growth.

On Wednesday, November 6, 2013, Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner will address the state of Onlight Aurora during a panel discussion at the Broadband Communities Conference on “Making Broadband Projects Sustainable: Fostering Economic Growth is Key to Building Robust Revenue Streams.”

Originally a Cost-Saving Measure

“In 2005-2006, we came to the conclusion that we were paying $500,000 a year [to telecommunications providers] for leased line expenses,” said Peter Lynch, Director and President of Onlight Aurora.

The city proposed to build a city-owned fiber-optic network, at a cost of $7.5 million, he said. At the time, the city was forecasting a minimum of 10 years payback period.

Instead, the city has leveraged:

  • A $13 million grant under the Federal Highway Administration’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program
  • An additional $1 million in funding under Gov. Quinn’s Gigabit Communities Challenge
  • Increasing opportunities for business revenue through add-on services available to business users.

“I can joyfully say, that we are now paying that off for its third or fourth time,” said Lynch.

Alleviating Traffic Congestion

The traffic congestion grant, which was administered through the Chicago Metropolitan Area for Planning, is a great example of leveraging a network originally designed for city communications for another purpose entirely.

The traffic grant occurred because the city had the foresight to install large number of fiber strands into conduits that it laid to build out the city network, said Lynch.

That in turn opened an opportunity when the FHA was seeking pilot cities to design programs that would alleviate auto emissions. The means for reduced emissions was to be an enhanced traffic flow because of better traffic light synchronization.

By granting the city’s traffic engineers with “access to several strands of fiber, they were able to prove out their concept on a much bigger scale,” said Ted Beck, the city’s Chief Technology Officer. “That helps the quality of our community.”

“We have been able to see better movement of traffic, which alleviates congestion and air quality,” said Eric Gallt, the city’s Traffic Engineer. The fiber loop enables city traffic officials “to see what is going on remotely, and it decreased the cost of the project by 50 percent or more.”

Planning for Broadband Success

Later, when Gov. Quinn announced the Illinois Gigabit Communities Challenge in the February 2012 State of the State address, the city of Aurora was ready to take the challenge to the next step.

Quinn’s challenge grant offered private providers and communities the opportunity to obtain between $1 million and $4 million in funding by working together to promote the highest-speed connectivity available. The goal was to “unleash the savvy of our entrepreneurs, the brainpower of our academics, and the creativity of our innovators,” Governor Quinn said in the speech.

In Aurora, Lynch and Beck recounted, Mayor Weisner empaneled a broadband roundtable, from business and the government, to brainstorm how the city’s fiber-optic network could benefit community broadband centers like schools, hospitals, and libraries. The plan enables these institutions to link up to the fiber network as they contribute to its financial strength.

“Technology plays a huge part in retaining the businesses that you want to keep and targeting the companies that you want to recruit,” said Beck. “Our core vision was community-based. Our schools are in critical need of technology, but you have to have a model that is sustainable.”

Onlight Aurora’s next step is to move beyond education, health care and social services to significant commercial resale of ultra-high-speed broadband services.


To hear more about Onlight Aurora, visit the session at Broadband Communities Conference at 3:50 p.m. on Wednesday, November 6:

Making Broadband Projects Sustainable – Fostering Economic Growth is Key to Building Robust Revenue Streams 

The fiber will last 30 years, but will the network? In this session, our panel of experts will examine key economic-development-driven steps that communities can take to enhance revenues, control costs, and make their networks sustainable.

Leader: Drew Clark - Chairman and Publisher,Broadband Breakfast


Eric Frederick - Executive Director, Connect Michigan

John Honker - President, Magellan Advisors

Bernadine Joselyn - Director, Public Policy & Engagement, Blandin Foundation

Tom Weisner - Mayor, Aurora, Illinois



Drew Clark to Lead Discussion at Broadband Communities Conference in Chicago on Role of Fiber Networks in Economic Growth

in Broadband Data/Broadband Stimulus/Broadband's Impact/Events/Fiber/The Innovation Economy by

Monday, October 28, 2013 – Drew Clark, Chairman and Publisher of BroadbandBreakfast.com, will lead a panel discussion at the Broadband Communities Conference next week on the role of fiber developments in fostering economic growth. The Economic Development Conference Series will be held in Tinley Park, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago) from Tuesday, November 5, through Thursday, November 7.

The event moderated by Clark, “Making Broadband Projects Sustainable,” will begin at 2:40 p.m. on Wednesday, November 6.

This fall, Clark will take the next step in his work as a nationally-known broadband leader and expert with the launch of a national association devoted to broadband internet services. The association will advance the benefits of broadband internet services — particularly Gigabit Network services — in homes, businesses, and local governments. Broadband internet services are the benefits that broadband provides: job creation, telemedicine, online learning, public safety, the smart grid, eGovernment, and family connectedness. These services turn high-speed internet connections into tools for more productive and healthy lives.

To register to attend the conference, please visit http://bbcmag.com/chicago.

Making Broadband Projects Sustainable – Fostering Economic Growth is Key to Building Robust Revenue Streams 

The fiber will last 30 years, but will the network? In this session, our panel of experts will examine key economic-development-driven steps that communities can take to enhance revenues, control costs, and make their networks sustainable.

Leader: Drew Clark - Chairman and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast

Eric Frederick - Executive Director, Connect Michigan
John Honker - President, Magellan Advisors
Bernadine Joselyn - Director, Public Policy & Engagement, Blandin Foundation
Tom Weisner - Mayor, Aurora, Illinois

As Executive Director of Broadband Illinois, Clark united the Land of Lincoln around a vision of Better Broadband, Better Lives. Illinois’ State Broadband Initiative became the national model for public-private collaboration. Clark came to Illinois having founded Broadband Census and the Broadband Breakfast Club, the premier Washington forum advancing the conversation on broadband.

Clark implements Gov. Pat Quinn’s personal motto, “everybody in, and nobody left out,” and he brings experts and practitioners together to advance a common purpose. Clark’s work at Broadband Illinois united Southern Illinois and Chicagoland, Eastern Illinois and Western Illinois, and he built up the Broadband Deployment Council’s efforts to use internet expansion to improve economic development in the State.

Broadband Illinois’ pioneering work in internet planning, convening and educating Illinois set the standard for engagement between communications providers and users of internet services, who have different interests but are both essential to advancing broadband. Clark established the framework of the 10 regional eTeams: community groups that link technology improvements to concrete economic development objectives.

The maps, resources and toolkits available on broadbandillinois.org provided the way that other state broadband entities followed. Under his leadership, the State launched the Illinois Broadband Innovation Fund and the Federal Communication Commission awarded a broadband lifeline grant for rural Western and Southern Illinois.

Clark earned his Bachelors of Arts (with Honors) in Philosophy and Economics from Swarthmore College, his Master of Science from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and his Juris Doctor from George Mason University School of Law. He serves on the board of the Rural Telecommunications Congress. You can find him on Google+Twitter, and LinkedIN.

Broadband Breakfast Club Webinar, on Tuesday, October 22, at 11 a.m. ET, Will Focus on State Broadband Initiative Summits

in Broadband Calendar/Broadband Mapping/Broadband Stimulus/Broadband TV/Broadband's Impact/NTIA by

October 18, 2013 – With several state broadband entities hosting summits in the remainder of October, the Broadband Breakfast Club is hosting its next webinar on the topic of “Upcoming State Broadband Summits: Michigan, Utah and Others Bring Intenet Knowledge and Practice For Economic Development” on Tuesday, October 22, at 11 a.m. ET/10 a.m. CT.

REGISTER NOW for the Broadband Breakfast Club Webinar

State Broadband Initiative entities have played a significant role in mapping high-speed internet services over the past four years. Their data collection activities have opened the way for new applications and services, and for enhancing the broadband climate throughout the country. They also play a key role in convening, connecting and fostering collaboration among stakeholders in their respective states.

During the month of October, several states will be hosting broadband summits, including Idaho, Michigan, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming. In this FREE Broadband Breakfast Club webinar, we’ll speak with leaders from State Broadband Initiative entities about their upcoming summits.

Kelleigh Cole, Manager, Utah Broadband Project
Erick Frederick, Executive Director, Connect Michigan

Other participants have been invited.

Moderator:Drew Clark, Chairman and Publisher, BroadbandBreakfast.com

REGISTER NOW for the Broadband Breakfast Club Webinar on Tuesday, October 22, 2013, at 11 a.m. ET/10 a.m. CT.

Utah, Michigan, Oregon and Others Host State Broadband Initiative Summits, Bringing Internet Data and Knowledge Together

in Broadband Data/Broadband Mapping/Broadband Stimulus/Broadband's Impact/NTIA by

October 18, 2013 – State Broadband Initiative entities have played the lead role in mapping high-speed internet services in their respective states. Now, these entities are also taking the lead to convene, connect and collaborate among broadband stakeholders.

Several states will be hosting broadband technology summits in the coming weeks, including Utah, Michigan, Oregon, Wyoming and Idaho. While each of these summits are different in tenor, depending on the local circumstances, they all have the theme of using high-speed internet to facilitate economic development in their states.

As a way to spur discussion of these events in advance of the summit, the Broadband Breakfast Club will be hosting a FREE webinar on Tuesday, October 22, at 11 a.m. ET/10 a.m. CT, with the state broadband leaders from several of these states.

Below is a brief guide to summits:


The Utah Broadband Project, which is part of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, will be hosting the 2013 Broadband Tech Summit in Provo, Utah, on Thursday, October 24. The summit will feature keynote speakers from Overstock.com, US IGNITE and the University of Utah.

The keynoter from the Utah-based Overstock.com is Bhargav J. Shah, the online reseller’s vice president of technology. From US IGNITE, founder and chief technology officer for the non-profit designed to spur advances in applications from high-speed connectivity. Ricart is a previous guest at a Broadband Breakfast Club webinar, on “How High-Capacity Applications are Driving Gigabit Connectivity

Other themes at the Utah event include “smart schools,” “high-capacity users forum,” and “social media and emergency management.”

“The 2013 broadband technology summit will be a forum for these regional planning participants to learn about improving broadband usage and infrastructure in their region,” said Kelleigh Cole, manager of the Utah Broadband Project.

Cole noted that the Spencer Cox, the new Utah Lieutenant Governor just confirmed on Wednesday, has been an active participant in the Utah Broadband Project. “This shows how broadband infrastructure has become a priority in all levels of state government,” she said.

Cole will join in the Tuesday Broadband Breakfast Club webinar.


Michigan broadband heros is theme of the broadband summit in East Lansing, Michigan, hosted by Connect Michigan, the state non-profit organization. The organization will award three Michigan Broadband Hero Awards, one for Broadband Access, one for Broadband Adoption, and one for Broadband Use.

The event includes keynote speeches by Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, by State Librarian Nancy Robertson, and by the broadband provider COMLINK. Additionally, the summit features a luncheon keynote speech by Howard Rheingold, the noted internet futurist. The afternoon panel will also feature a panel discussion on economic development and broadband featuring Blair Levin of the Aspen Institute, Michael Finney of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Professor Johannes Bauer of Michigan State University of Steve Webster of Prima Civitas.

Eric Frederick, who will join in the Tuesday Broadband Breakfast Club webinar, said that Connect Michigan next week will further publicize participation by Rheingold, and by the capstone economic development panel.


The Oregon Connections Telecommunications Conference is being held on Thursday, October 24, and Friday, October 25, in Hood River, Oregon. The event features Amber Case, a researcher exploring the field of cyborg anthropology. Further information is available at http://www.oregonconnections.info/program.htm


Wyoming’s broadband summit will be held on Tuesday, October 29, in Cheyenne, Wyoming. More information is available at http://www.linkwyoming.org/lwy/default.aspx?page=108


Idaho’s broadband summit is being held on Tuesday, October 22, in Boise, Idaho. Mike Field, Executive Director of the Link Idaho initiative in the state, said that the summit will focus on community broadband centers, including the “anchor institutions” that help drive broadband developments. “Government, health care, libraries, first responders and education are the main folks that we are working together with,” he said. More information is available at http://linkidaho.org/lid/default.aspx?page=8&bhcp=1


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