The U.S Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced today that it is awarding a$1.9 million grant to the City of Eugene and its partners for the construction of the high speed fiber network that will connect about 120 downtown Eugene buildings to world-class internet. Known as EUGNet, the project is a partnership with the City, the Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB), the Lane Council of Governments (LCOG), Lane County and the Technology Association of Oregon (TAO).
“This is great news for our city and our region,” said Mayor Lucy Vinis. “The City’s partnerships along with the support of the EDA has made EUGNet a reality that is strengthening Eugene’s downtown Innovation District and setting our city apart by creating opportunities for local businesses to grow and compete in the global market.”
The grant award will help the community realize its vision to be one of the best places in the country for internet access, supporting robust and sustainable job growth. “We are celebrating this win today in part because of the terrific advocacy we have received from our elected local and federal officials. Thank you Mayor Vinis, Eugene City Council, Senator Ron Wyden, Senator Jeff Merkley, and Congressman Peter DeFazio” said Matt Sayre, Director at the Technology Association of Oregon.
This economic development project builds on the success of a two-year pilot, which brought fiber to seven downtown buildings. The pilot demonstrated the benefits of a publicly owned fiber network that partners with private internet providers. Providing the high speed fiber infrastructure creates a competitive landscape that will offer faster internet service at lower costs, boosting the competitiveness of local businesses.
Now that full funding has been secured the construction schedule for the full-build out can begin. Initial construction of the network began in late April, and over 35 buildings have signed up for the new gigabit service. Completion of the planned network within the service area in downtown Eugene is anticipated to take approximately 18 months.
The EDA grant will provide 50% matching funding for the project, which is estimated to cost just under $4 million. The fiber network will be constructed by the City, LCOG, and EWEB, and will be owned by the public. Private ISPs will lease the fiber strands from EWEB and then provide services to individual businesses within the service area. Any qualified ISP can lease the fiber— it is an open-access network.
For more information about the fiber project, including how to sign up for service,please visit www.EUGnet.org.