Danville: Open access quietly working, attracting jobs, lowering costs

Here is an article about the City of Danville open access network (called nDanville). nDanville started as an open access network in late 2007, so it is in its fourth year. It was the first municipal open access effort in the United States, and has been quietly cutting costs for Internet and VoIP phone service by as much 80% for businesses and institutions using providers on the nDanville fiber network. It has also been bringing jobs and businesses to the community. One of the major economic developments in which nDanville played a key role was the re-purposing of the "White Mill" building. Just a couple of blocks from downtown, the White Mill building was once one of the largest textile plants in the country. But it was closed years ago, and the multi-story building sat empty until it was purchased last year. It is undergoing a complete renovation as a high tech data center, and access to nDanville fiber was crucial to closing the deal. nDanville has also helped attract a specialty PC manufacturer to the community, and more broadly, just about every business using providers on the nDanville network have enjoyed substantially lower costs for VPNs, Internet access, and voice services. The local hospital recently switched to an IP TV provider on nDanville and is enjoying substantial monthly savings from the switch.

nDanville is operated with a staff of two people as part of the City Utilities department. All services to businesses and residents are provided by private sector providers that use nDanville to transport those services over a high performance active Ethernet fiber network. nDanville offers standard 100 megabit, Gigabit, and 10Gigabit connections. Design Nine provided the City with the original business, financial, and technical planning with the network, and continues to assist the City with the project.

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I wateched a lot of the downturn down in the Danville area through the 90's when I made regular trips there and saw the economy tanking as textiles and tobacco continued their downward spirals. But, I've also been heartened to watch them regain some of that lost ground with new industries and technology coming into the region. My mom still lives down that way over near South Boston, so I get to go through Danville fairly frequently still and see the progress that comes with such measures. Danville took a major leap of faith and it's paying off for them. I wonder if other similarly hard-hit former tectile/tobacco/furntiure/other manufacturing localities will follow suit and try to lure more technology-based companies and other new start-ups to try to revive their local economies.

Currently we don't have lots of numbers to show what is the impact of nDanville to users, I am looking forward to it.
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This is very cool!