RNC to leave Cleveland better Internet and wi-fi links

CLEVELAND -- Could the Republican National Convention leave downtown Cleveland as a big wireless hotspot, a lasting benefit for downtown businesses and residents.?

It seems a distinct possibility, if Internet service providers make the same kind of infrastructure improvements they've made for past conventions.

Big changes will be needed to accommodate 50,000 expected visitors, including 15,000 techno-dependent media members.

Brett Lindsey is the Chief Operating Officer for One Community, the group which provides and coordinates broadband access downtown.

He says One Community has been consulting with Republicans for more than a year.

Companies like AT&T and Verizon spent tens of millions of dollars -- some reports claimed up to $100 million -- in upgrading the techno capacity of Tampa before the Republican convention there in 2012.

Lindsey said plans here call for installation of about 144 new fiber optic lines between Quicken Loans Arena and wherever the media center is located, likely either at the Convention Center or an improvised center in a garage near The Q.

"When you think about the massive amount of video-chatting, tweets and everything that will be going on in that time frame, that's a massive amount of capacity needed....It will allow for an almost unlimited amount of bandwidth to be leaving Cleveland and coming into Cleveland during the convention," Lindsey said.

"They actually want new infrastructure to be built for their specific use.....That's the type of capacity we would use to run our network for all out customers," Lindsey explained.

Lindsey said installing the fiber optic lines would be one more massive project that needs to be completed on a fast timeline downtown.

More specifics on what will be installed where should be forthcoming soon. Republicans, TV networks, media companies and service providers are making the decisions.

The good news for downtown businesses and customers, all the improvements will stay behind once the Republicans have left.

Lindsey said, "You're talking tens and twentys millions of investment. And you are not going to pick that up and take that with you...it's going to remain.....These are legacy projects that will benefit both the citizens and the city of Cleveland for the next several decades."

Follow WKYC's Senior Political Correspondent Tom Beres on Twitter: @TomBeres


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