Illinois City to Lease Fiber Network for Business Use

AURORA, IL - The city of Aurora, Ill., plans to lease its fiber network to a nonprofit agency that will connect local schools, businesses and hospitals, Mayor Tom Weisner said in his State of the City address. OnLight Aurora, an independent not-for-profit, has been created to leverage Aurora’s fiber network for nonmunicipal use. The City Council has yet to vote on the plan.
Update 5/9/12: The City Council voted unanimously to support the plan.

Mayor Weisner said that through videoconferencing, students at the Illinois Math and Science Academy now confer with students across the globe, and distance learning allows college students a greater choice of course offerings. In the near future, all Aurora schools, both public and private, should be able to tap into the city’s fiber resources.

He added, "Today’s students are tomorrow’s workforce, so ensuring that they have the technical skills and access to information necessary not only to compete successfully but to excel in today’s global economy is one of my top priorities as mayor. The city’s fiber network gives educational institutions the opportunity to collaborate and gain high-speed access to a wealth of Internet resources and technology solutions which now are limited by available bandwidth and cost."

In addition, the Aurora library plans to transform its entire system into a state-of-the-art digital information center where books and digital resources can be accessed not only at the library facilities, but remotely from digital kiosks in schools and shopping centers and from members' homes.

The mayor said, "I can envision no better host for our city’s digital information resources, and no better technology and learning center for our entire community, and no better partner with our schools, than the Aurora Public Library of the Future."

Local health care providers will benefit from redundant broadband services, and businesses will also have increased broadband options.

Network Saved Twice Its Cost
The mayor said that though the fiber network, at $8 million, was a costly endeavor, it quickly saved twice that amount of money. "For example, to date we have secured $15 million in grants to connect intersections to our traffic management system, which allows our engineers to remotely synchronize traffic signals, monitor traffic patterns and adjust to changing traffic conditions, so you can spend less time in the car, and more time with your family and friends. By reducing commute times, we also minimize idling, reduce carbon emissions and improve our air quality."

Aurora also partnered with the nearby city of Naperville to leverage their fiber optic networks by training firefighters via videoconferencing. This innovation allows firefighters to stay in their neighborhood stations and more quickly respond to emergencies throughout the city.

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