Springfield's new fiber internet connection could draw start-up businesses

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Coming soon to Springfield, a faster way to do business, whether at home or in the office. Crews with the city of Springfield are laying the ground work for increased internet speeds. Start-up business owners said better broadband is critical.

High-speed downloads and uploads are possible in pockets of Springfield. SpringNet, City Utilities' internet service, has been offering gigabit download speeds for more than 20 years to commercial businesses.

Soon, broadband will be available across the entire city, even in residential areas. Some say that could even bring more businesses here, giving a boost to the economy.

"I wouldn't have moved here if I couldn't do the work that I needed to do," said Seth Kitchen.

Kitchen came to Springfield from St. Louis to start his company, called Collaborator.

"It's a GPS-based music application. If you're a guitarist, you can post your guitar riff on a social media feed, it's looks kind of like Facebook or Twitter. Then everyone within, say, 100 miles of you can see that track and overlay, say, vocals, or their bass or their drums," he said.

His business requires him to download and upload tons of data... quickly. That's possible inside the eFactory, a hub for start-up businesses, which already has fast download and upload capabilities. Soon, the entire city of Springfield will be able to access the same speeds.

"It's potentially the wave of the future as we try to speed up broadband delivery throughout the United States," said Jeff Bertholdi, with City Utilities.

That means CU's crews will lay nearly 1,100 miles of new fiber lines that carry that crazy fast connection across Springfield.

"It will improve training times, allow us to do these AI and machine-learning tasks that, you can't do with a slow internet connection," Kitchen said.

Some might start seeing construction in some Springfield neighborhoods, but Jeff Bertholdi, SpringNet's director, said residents won't see an impact on utility bills for the $120 million project.

"It's completely financially supported by the revenue generated by the tenants themselves," Bertholdi said.

"Tenants" are the internet providers like CenturyLink that pay the city to use its system. Officials with the Chamber of Commerce said creating this high tech hub could bring more business owners here.

"It's going to allow lots more innovation to come to Springfield, and it's going to be better overall," Kitchen said.

Construction is set to take about two to three years on the new connection system.

Bertholdi said the glass fibers of the new broadband will be more reliable than older structures.

"Cities with fiber infrastructure have very few outages because it is much more reliable and hardy than metallic and copper based systems are," Bertholdi said.

He said it will be up to CenturyLink and other providers to determine how much this faster internet speed will cost residents. For that information, click HERE.

Bertholdi, and other officials, said fiber optic connection is just one step. Once that investment is made, others, like 5G cell service could become available, too.