Tuesday, February 13, 2001

Toledo firm wins bid for Butler Co. fiber optics

Network to link five communities, Miami U.

By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Butler County commissioners have chosen a Toledo company to install a $7 million fiber-optic network that will link five communities and Miami University, and make high-speed communications accessible to governments, schools and businesses.

        NORMAP, a subsidiary of SFT Inc., will build the system. The county will kick in $2 million, and the engineering consulting firm SFT will invest about $5 million of its own funds to build the network in one year.

        The system will provide a broadband connection for emergency, overnment and telephone services among Hamilton, Middletown, Oxford, Fairfield and West Chester Township and the outside world.

        “This network will give us the informational highway capacity comparable to what the Michael Fox Highway and interstate system provide for conventional highway capacity,” said Dennis Nichols, the county's project manager.

        Mr. Nichols said the system will open the county to high-tech businesses and industrial investment that require broadband network access for almost unlimited data transmission.

        The commissioners are paying $300,000 to the Milken Institute in Santa Monica, Calif., to devise and carry out an economic development plan for luring high-tech industries.

        “There is one major development in the wings,” said Mr. Nichols. He declined to elaborate.

        With the network, he said, SFT has agreed to bring a competitive telephone service that will provide toll-free dialing throughout the county and region. The company may also provide access to one or more competitive cable TV and Internet broadband service providers.

        The system, at least initially, will not be available to residents.

        “What the county is doing will not allow just the normal person direct access to that optical fiber network,” Hamilton City Manager Steve Sorrell said. “There will still have to be links and nodes installed allowing that access.”


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