UNIVERSITY CITY (KMOX) – Now that the Loop trolley is inching closer toward laying tracks, plans are speeding up to simultaneously bury fiber optic cable, creating what’s dubbed a “gigabit main street” to attract businesses and innovators.
Loop Data Rail project manager Dave Sandel says to expect a “gigabit storefront” to open soon on Delmar Blvd., sporting a slick, Apple Store-esque glimpse at what’s possible with hyper-fast Internet speeds.
Hint: it’s not just for Netflix in your living room.
Fiber optic-enabled Internet boasts download speeds 100 to 300 times faster than what we’re used to and upload speeds up to 500 times faster. It’s coveted by companies that make heavy use of videoconferencing, by engineering and architecture firms collaborating on complex files, and by start-ups building new things.
In fact, Sandel says Square and Twitter are two examples of ideas born in the Loop, but which fled for the infrastructure (and talent) of Silicon Valley.
Cities across the country, including St. Louis at one time, have been chasing Google Fiber, which promises to blanket a city with access to gigabit Internet. Kansas City was the first chosen, followed by Austin, Tex. and Provo, Utah.
Michael Orlowski, attorney for the Loop Data Rail and also for Google Fiber in Kansas City, says businesses have flocked to the first neighborhoods there where fiber became available. (He cautions that he is unable to provide any ‘privileged’ information about Google’s efforts.)
Google is now teasing other cities.
St. Louis isn’t one of them, but Orlowski says that’s more than okay.
He says targeting fiber to a specific corridor — as opposed to trying to build it everywhere and anywhere — is not only much, much more cost-effective, but it also molds that previously mentioned “gigabit main street,” clustering like-minded innovators in a community.
Real estate development along the corridor is a convenient side effect.