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Municipal fiber network in Syracuse could bring lots of possibilities

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News (file photo)
Syracuse City Hall.

The city of Syracuse could take the first steps toward building a municipal fiber network this summer. The project would provide high speed bandwidth at an affordable price for the city, but could also benefit the community. 

Dave Prowak, director of Information Technology said while this project will improve Internet speeds at city hall and City Hall Commons, it could also be a key feature to connecting the city’s other 30-35 locations, where portions of their network are running.   

“So if we can connect them all with fiber, we can do a lot of things that we can’t do right now, where we’re hamstrung by slower connections,” Prowak said. "Once this is in place, besides just giving us really affordable, really big pipes, there's lots of other things we could do with it."

Prowak said it could eliminate the need for so much other equipment, servers and software at those different sites. Plus, he said, a fiber network could be shared with other municipalities or nonprofits to drive down their costs.

“We’re not stopping there," Prowak said. "We’re also considering maybe the opportunity to develop a real high speed WiFi network in downtown Syracuse for the general public, not just for city hall proper or City Hall Commons, the buildings we’re chiefly responsible for down here. This opens the doors to a lot of different opportunities.”

Prowak said the city is taking advantage of a law from the 1890s, that allows them to have their own fiber pulled through both Verizon and Crown Castle’s conduit pipes. This project is not to be confused with a municipal broadband network, which Mayor Ben Walsh said he is interested in, but Prowk said would be very expensive. The Syracuse Common Council may approve the fiber project Monday.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.