Bexley will share in $1 million in state funding that will enable the city, along with Gahanna, Reynoldsburg and Whitehall, to upgrade its broadband fiber networks.
The multijurisdictional project will tie into the state of Ohio's OARnet high-speed fiber network. The $1 million in state funds will allow for expansion of the existing GahannaNet fiber network through Bexley, Reynoldsburg and Whitehall, which currently don't have publicly owned fiber.
The project will enable businesses along Bexley's Main Street corridor to access enhanced high-speed Internet connectivity and other technologies that rely on fiber networks, Mayor Ben Kessler said.
"We're always looking for ways to offer a competitive development environment in Bexley, and are especially excited about projects that add value for our existing users. This project does both," he said.
"This project would bring a fiber network to Bexley that would offer a direct fiber connection to resources throughout the state, enabling us to offer competitive and ultra-fast connectivity to Internet providers and data centers."
Local school will be also able to tap into the enhanced network, Kessler said.
"This project also has the potential to be very valuable to our educational institutions, who are heavy data-users and would benefit from the straight fiber connection to OARnet," he said.
A major aspect of the enhanced network is that it will increase communication between Bexley's police department and those in neighboring communities, Kessler said.
"A key benefit of this grant is the ability to connect our police department directly to Gahanna and Whitehall, who are on the same platform as us," he said. "Through this direct connection, we can more effectively share data and other resources."
Bexley and the other three suburbs had originally requested $3.5 million in state funding. The reduced funding has caused the communities to reassess the scope and timeline of the fiber network project, Kessler said.
"For example, in Bexley, the initial proposal had us installing fiber down Main Street, up Drexel (Avenue) and across Broad (Street)," he said. "We have already laid conduit during past (street maintenance) projects, when the street was already open, on Main and Broad, so running fiber in existing conduit is not a great cost.
"If the (state money) can at least fund the infrastructure spanning between Bexley and our partner cities, then our running that last mile of connection is feasible and would have a short payback period."
Kessler said he intends to meet with officials in Gahanna, Reynoldsburg and Whitehall to discuss how the communities can work together to best use the state funds.
"We still need to sit down with the partnering cities and brainstorm how to make the most out of the capital dollars we have received in a way that is maximally beneficial to our existing and potential user base," he said.