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Let there be light: Eugene kicks off development of downtown high-speed internet network

Mayor Lucy Vinis (at right) takes part in a "fiber lighting ceremony" on Tuesday, March 21, 2017. (SBG)

EUGENE, Ore. - Blue light came to life as Mayor Lucy Vinnis and Eugene Water & Electric Board GM Frank Lawson brought two fiber optic wires together Tuesday.

The illuminating moment marks the start of construction on a publicly owned fiber optic internet network in downtown Eugene capable of delivering gigabit service.

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The event took place at the center of the city known for its 90 year history of innovation.

"The Miner Building is an incubator of business, prosperity and success," said Matt Sayre, director of the Technology Association of Oregon Director.

But what does it mean for surrounding businesses to have this capability?

"To the extent of world class internet," Sayre said. "You become a great place for tech companies to come and grow, and when that happens, high paying jobs are created and we see a lot of economic prosperity."

RELATED | Eugene receives $150,000 tech grant and title of 'Gigabit City'

One of those tech companies is XS Media, they were one of the first companies to distribute fiber optic internet to other tech companies in Lane County during the fiber optic pilot run last year.

"We are offering gigabit services and up to ten gigabit per second services," said Katie Kizer, XS Media Network Analyst.

How fast is that exactly?

She said with that speed you can download a Blu-ray movie in 60 seconds.

It's the type of internet speed other tech companies need in order to function at a high level.

"Literally world class speeds, world as in China," Kizer said. "All the major technology based countries in the world, we are a player now and Eugene is on the map for that reason."

Experts said fiber optics will have businesses looking at Eugene to start operations.

That's an idea that gets Mayor Vinis excited.

"A lot of businesses are going to relocate here," Vinis said.

Not only is Mayor Vinis optimistic for the children's future in the industry, but a new time for the city as well.

"Connecting two eras right?" Vinis said. "Our past and our future all in one spot at this moment."

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