By Lauren Sable Freiman | Photo by Doug Khrenovsky
“The RNC Host Committee came to OneCommunity and asked if we had enough capacity to support the RNC and thousands of media that will be here in Cleveland for the convention,” Lev Gonick, OneCommunity’s co-founder and CEO, says.
The answer was a resounding “yes” from the 10-year old nonprofit that has built one of the largest and fastest all-fiber broadband networks in the nation. OneCommunity provides Northeast Ohio hospitals, schools, government, public safety departments, and businesses with reliable, flexible, and customizable high-speed internet and data center services. The fundamental premise of OneCommunity, Gonick says, is that fiber broadband is “the currency of now.”
“Any city in the world that aspires to be world class needs to have world-class digital infrastructure,” Gonick says. “And that needs to be fiber optic. It’s the on-ramp for economic, social, and educational needs of the community.”
Although other for-profit companies provide internet connectivity to the region, OneCommunity is doing a number of things differently than any of its competitors. Foremost, Gonick says, OneCommunity’s network is all fiber. Comparatively, telephone companies are using mostly copper wiring, while cable companies are using coaxial cables.
While copper and coaxial do provide connectivity, Gonick likens the technology to the donkey passes and wagon trails of days past.
“We provide the only highway that’s out there,” Gonick says. “The others are an earlier era.”
OneCommunity’s network is able to offer connectivity that far surpasses anything an incumbent can provide in the marketplace. In fact, OneCommunity’s network is 26,000 times faster than most cable or internet services – fast enough to send a full DVD in less than one second.
The organization also has the unique ability to create capacity for entrepreneurs who are interested in large data analytics. The broadband network serves as a platform for innovation and collaboration, enabling a variety of beneficial programs and applications in healthcare, education, government, and public safety. It is also an ideal test environment for researchers, technology companies, and entrepreneurs.
“We work with a number of the entrepreneurial accelerates to enable start-ups and entrepreneurs to design solutions for customers in which bandwidth is not a constraint,” Gonick says. “We can help design tomorrow’s applications today here in Cleveland.”
Costwise, OneCommunity is very competitive with competitor pricing. The businesses located in buildings in which the OneCommunity network is already in place have a significant advantage on cost.
“We are generating revenue to put back into our programs, so we don’t need the same margins as the big companies,” Gonick says. “We are the only provider in the region where all the resources are circulating back into Northeast Ohio. All the revenue we generate is put back into programming locally.”
Programs include a broadband innovation fund for entrepreneurs who are seeking funding to complete a business plan and a Big Gig Challenge, which is seeking proposals from municipalities that establish creative and collaborative expansion opportunities to connect community anchor institutions, government facilities and business districts.
So far, OneCommunity’s ultra-high-speed, fiber-optic broadband network covers almost 2,000 miles around Northeast Ohio and provides data services to 2,400 facilities, 500 of which are in the greater Cleveland area. The others are in one of the 24 counties that OneCommunity services around Northeast Ohio, Canton, Akron, Lorain, Toledo, and Youngstown.
Although OneCommunity’s vision does not include expansion outside of Northeast Ohio, it does include continued expansion within Northeast Ohio.
“One of our unique value propositions is that we are Northeast Ohio focused,” Gonick says. “We will continue to go deeper and deeper into the community, and we are working every day to bring more buildings on the network.”
Since OneCommunity’s inception, Gonick says the response from the community has been tremendously positive, and he is pleasantly surprised by the community’s understanding of the power of fiber.
“In terms of the region’s future, no matter what your vision or blueprint, we have found unanimous agreement that the future involves leveraging the next generation of data services,” Gonick says.
For more information: onecommunity.org