“RNC to bring faster, more robust internet service to downtown Cleveland”
A lingering effect of hosting the Republican National Convention in 2016 likely will be better and faster internet service for residents and business in downtown Cleveland.
Executives on the convention’s host committee say they expect AT&T, in particular, to make a major investment in Cleveland, similar to what the company did in Tampa before that city held the RNC in 2012.
That could be huge.
“I’ve read reports of over $30 million and some over the stratosphere, up to $100 million . . . it was a pretty substantial investment (in Tampa), and I think we’ll see something like that in Cleveland,” said Jon Pinney, managing partner of Cleveland law firm Kohrman Jackson & Krantz and general counsel for the 2016 convention’s Host Committee.
According to news reports that came out of Tampa before the event there in 2012, AT&T alone spent $15 million to bolster its downtown network with new fiber-optic cable, Internet hot spots, cell towers and other infrastructure. And that was just in the months before the event. The company also invested about $140 million in the three years leading up to the convention, much of which it said helped to prepare the network for the event.
The improvements in Cleveland will likely be necessary. It’s expected that Cleveland’s Internet traffic will hit an all-time high during key moments of the convention, including the Republican candidate’s acceptance speech.
“We call it ‘10X’,” Pinney said. “‘That’s the amount of data that will move out of Cleveland — 10 times our normal bandwidth.”
That’s what happens when an estimated 15,000 members of the media, and 35,000 or so politicos attending the convention, hit town.
“Fox, CNN and other networks will want their own networks in place,” said Brett Lindsey, chief operating officer for Cleveland-based One Community, which provides broadband access downtown and has also been meeting with the city and RNC officials to strategize and plan for the 2016 event.
Lindsey, who also expects a big investment to be made by ATT, Verizon and other major carriers, said a key requirement being addressed is the handling of traffic between the Convention Center and Quicken Loans Arana, where many of the events will be held, including the acceptance speech. That will require the installation of about 144 new fiber optic lines to handle the traffic, Lindsey said.
‘The size cable that they’re talking about putting in is the size that some carriers would use to support an entire network,” Lindsey said.
The effort will mean more work for companies like AT&T and One Community, but the benefits of that work will linger long after the convention leaves town – and affect just about anyone who lives in or visits the city.
“Once it’s in, they don’t come back and pull it out. The benefit that we should see is from millions of dollars in legacy investments that the companies leave behind,” Lindsey said. “Fiber comes in for the convention, but we’ll be able to use that fiber network for years.”
AT&T said it was not yet ready to provide details of its investment in Cleveland, but would provide specifics as they become available.
Valarie McCall, the city of Cleveland’s chief of governmental and international affairs, declined to discuss the matter.
While AT&T is the name most often mentioned in connection with RNC communications — the company has been the official wireless provider for past RNC events — Pinney said other major carriers are also talking to the RNC.
“We’re trying to convince all of these partners, whether it’s AT&T or Verizon or someone else, to make substantial investments in the system,” Pinney said. “We expect a number of the multinational companies to spend significant dollars.”
Like Lindsey, Pinney also predicts that the investments will be among the lingering positive effects of the convention that will benefit Cleveland residents for years to come.
“And there will be many more announcements coming,” he said.