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Science and Technology

Cincinnati renews quest for faster broadband

Cincinnati is going to pursue Google Fiber--a service said to be up to 100 times faster than average broadband speeds--as a way to make the city's tech infrastructure more competitive.  Council member P.G. Sittenfeld made the announcement Tuesday at Roadtrippers, one of the companies supporting the effort.

James Fischer, CEO of Roadtrippers, made the case for faster broadband from his company's perspective.

"Right now, our team measures up, but our internet connection doesn't," he said.  "That means lost productivity, plain and simple.  Access to better broadband would be like having extra employees."

The city has tried for Google Fiber before without success, but spokeswoman Meg Olberding said that was several years ago and the landscape of Cincinnati's tech businesses has exploded since then.  She said the city sees this as a prime opportunity to put all hands on deck "and see what we can do to bring Cincinnati not only up to our competitive advantage but our competitive necessity to keep attracting tech companies and to be the hub that we are."

Google recently announced a national competition to put Google Fiber in the next wave of U.S. cities.  Council member Sittenfeld said Cincinnati is not on that list, but the city is going to do everything it can to get on it. 

That doesn't mean he's lost his appreciation for local broadband providers.

"I'll continue to be a cheerleader for those providers, but I don't think there's a CEO in Cincinnati who wouldn't say, 'We value competition,'" said Sittenfeld.  "Competition is the secret sauce of capitalism and it's important that everybody raise their game together."

City council has signed a policy directive instructing the city administration to work with the private sector to take all steps necessary to get into Google's competition.