Village officials are looking to attract small and medium-size businesses to New Albany with an enhanced fiber-optic network.

Village officials are looking to attract small and medium-size businesses to New Albany with an enhanced fiber-optic network.

Council approved a resolution Jan. 20 to spend $1.4-million to connect the village's current fiber network, New Albany Net, to the state's OARNet, a high-speed backbone network.

Village community-development director Jennifer Chrysler said the enhancements would allow smaller companies to move to New Albany and take advantage of an advanced fiber-optics network at a lower cost than in other areas. She said one problem with the current New Albany Net is that it is too expensive to activate the fiber for smaller companies.

The village currently owns or leases 96 strands of fiber, which were created through a partnership with the city of Gahanna and American Electric Power.

During last week's council meeting, Kathryn Meyer, the village's deputy director for community development, said the $1.4-million would be used to "light," or activate, the fiber optics so they would be ready for use.

"What this investment would allow us to do is really enhance it and allow companies of all sizes to utilize this network," she said. "The additional thing that making it live would do is differentiate New Albany Net from other communities. We can recruit companies nationwide."

Chrysler said village officials are looking into entering into a contract with a data facility to purchase and own equipment and for the data facility to provide managed services to the village and its businesses.

Chrysler said the village already has landed two new companies -- PharmaForce and Nationwide -- because of the fiber network. They will develop in the research and information district of the village's business park.

PharmaForce is expected to bring 200 jobs to the community, and Nationwide is expected to generate $325,000 in tax revenues annually for the school district, she said.

"We think that the infrastructure is one of the main reasons we were able to create the research and information district," Chrysler said.

During last week's council meeting, Mayor Nancy Ferguson said the live fiber-optics network would help recruit other companies.

"Only larger companies can afford to light the fiber," she said. "This would create a management service that would allow medium and small companies in the community to light their own fiber though this company through an economical amount. It's another economic development tool that we can add to our tool chest."

Chrysler said her department also has been discussing with the tenants in the medical-office building, Tween Brands and Abercrombie & Fitch about how individual existing companies could benefit from the enhancements.

One way the fiber would help these businesses is through its connection to research and educational facilities across the state, she said.

"One of the ideas we had was a partnership with the design school in Cincinnati," Chrysler said.

With this, she said, companies like Abercrombie and Tween Brands could recruit instate design talent.

"We are hoping through that relationship our retailers like Tween Brands and Abercrombie would like to have virtual relationships with these campuses," she said.

Jon Stonebraker, the technology coordinator for the New Albany-Plain Local School District, said the New Albany schools use the current fiber network and was the first entity to connect this past summer.

He said the district's network operates at 100 megabits per second, compared to its old broadband network that ran at 1.54 megabits per second. The district currently connects to the Internet through Time Warner Telecom Inc.

Stonebraker said the network has been great in the classroom and has allowed students to take college classes at Ohio State University via streaming video.

He said download speeds depend on different variables, such as the speed of the site to which a user is trying to connect and the user's individual connection speed. With the fiber network, he said, the speed of the district's network wouldn't be a problem.

"We have not seen a point where we have maxed out our bandwidth," Stonebraker said. "It is truly added value with the collaboration. We feel so fortunate."