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Cincinnati goes its own way with fiber, targeting a multipurpose path

Cincinnati is going its own way to build a fiber network that will not only enable it to run smart city and internal applications, but also another way to monetize the network by selling potential wholesale access to other providers and businesses.

This project emerges at a time when communities are taking two paths to building smart cities: developing them on their own or partnering with a service provider. 

What I see in Cincinnati is a city looking to improve its own operations for its residents while making itself more attractive to businesses that are looking for a key destination. 

Harry Black, city manager for Cincinnati, told FierceTelecom the fiber network is being built with a multipurpose mindset.

“This is another one of our smart city initiatives where we will lay just under four miles of fiber that will cover the circumference of our central business district,” Black said. “It will be a ring and we’ll do some cross connections so various blocks can tap into it in the future.”


The fiber network upgrade, which will take 15 months to install, will require a unique underground installation process. This process will require crews to dig a 30-inch-wide trench in the street to install ducts and cable. Crews will then dig about 200 feet at a time, moving to the next segment as one is completed.

But this is not just another city fiber experiment.

Cincinnati is using the fiber to replace the copper-based analog traffic service system while connecting to the city’s existing municipal fiber grid, which facilitates communications for all city departments including emergency services.

Additionally, the fiber network will support the video traffic coming from cameras that will collect information on traffic flows throughout the central business district.

“The primary driver is to upgrade our current analog traffic signaling system,” Black said. “This will allow us to transition it to a digital environment, which will help out with traffic management in the central business district because we’ll have greater control and visibility and make adjustments remotely to the traffic grid as situations change.”

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