By Eric Seiverling
Amid the bursts of camera lights, an excited crowd, and appearances from local dignitaries, Pittsburgh’s image as a thriving technological hotspot received a boost earlier this month when Comcast Business announced plans to invest $20 million in a major expansion of its fiber-based network throughout the downtown Pittsburgh area.
The investment will enable Comcast Business to reach more than 425 additional businesses directly throughout the area’s Golden Triangle, and make the network more accessible to hundreds of more businesses.
Businesses that will benefit from the expansion are businesses that require large amounts of bandwidth, are looking to link multiple sites or branch locations or plan to connect their offices to a third-party data center. Examples of these types of businesses include emergency services, educational institutions, financial services, and law offices.
“This is a very exciting day for us,” Comcast Regional Senior Vice-President Christine Whitaker told those in attendance at the Wyndham Grand Hotel overlooking Pittsburgh’s Point State Park. “This expansion demonstrates Comcast’s commitment to the vital growth of Pittsburgh.”
Capable of delivering up to 100 gigabits-per-second (Gbps) of network capacity, Comcast Business’s fiber optic Ethernet network expansion will support advanced services and give Comcast the ability to give new customers, whether small and medium-sized organizations or large enterprises, quick access to its network.
The project began last year and will include more than 64 miles of new fiber optic cable. Completion of the project is scheduled for the end of 2018.
“When we think of infrastructure, we usually think of sewers, roads, and bridges,” Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald told the crowd. “But information infrastructure is every bit as critical.”
An example of the service’s benefits includes faster, more accurate traffic cameras, which will give first responders more detailed information before they arrive at the scene of an emergency. That aspect impressed Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto, who was in attendance at the announcement.
“We look at the future of public safety, and the future is today,” Peduto said. “Cities are being transformed through technology.”
Comcast’s investment in Pittsburgh is not the company’s first foray into improving a region’s advanced Internet and voice capabilities.
Comcast Business serves 20 of the nation’s top 25 markets, with Comcast Business’s Ethernet services being delivered nationally over a network that spans more than 153,000 miles. Comcast Business is the nation’s largest cable provider to small and mid-size businesses. It has emerged as a force in the Ethernet market and has been recognized over the last two years by leading industry associations.
Closer to home, The Keystone Region Comcast Business team last year completed the company’s first 100 Gbps network in the Eastern United States by connecting Penn State University’s data center with its Milton S. Hershey Medical Center facility.
According to Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership CEO Jeremy Waldrup, Comcast’s investment in Pittsburgh comes at a time of continued growth for the city.
— Comcast Western PA (@ComcastWestrnPA) March 6, 2017
According to Waldrup, there is currently $841 million in active construction projects occurring in Downtown Pittsburgh. Over the past decade, investment in Downtown Pittsburgh has surpassed $4.5 billion, creating 3,000 new housing units, 2,000 hotel rooms, 1 million square feet of new office space, and 60 new dining destinations.
“The investment in expanding the fiber optic network in Downtown Pittsburgh comes at a time when we are seeing incredible growth throughout the Golden Triangle,” Waldrup said to those in attendance.
“It’s clear that necessary infrastructure to support such rapid development is vital. It’s support like this that keeps Downtown Pittsburgh a thriving hub.”