St. Louis issues gigabit RFI, calls for development of fiber infrastructure

This is big, folks.

It looks as if the eye of economic development in the city of St. Louis has finally turned its gaze toward fiber Internet. The city has released a Request for Information (RFI) for gigabit broadband delivery and expansion in the city of St. Louis.

The full document can be accessed here, but in essence the city is asking Internet service providers for ideas and interest for “developing, upgrading and expanding gigabit broadband infrastructure and improving access to high-speed Internet for residents and businesses across St. Louis City.”

The RFI acknowledges that fiber Internet infrastructure is key to maintaining the health of current businesses and ensuring economic growth through attracting startups and fostering innovation, especially in those districts which already show great promise for it, specifically Downtown St. Louis, Cortex, Cherokee and the Midtown alley.

It states four goals for fiber development in the city:

  • The creation of gigabit network in targeted innovation districts and high-demand residential zones in the city to support innovation, job creation and economic growth
  • The ability to deliver gigabit service at prices comparable to those in other communities
  • Eventually to expand the gigabit service offer to the entire city of St. Louis
  • To deliver at least a minimum amount of high broadband capabilities to economically disadvantaged residential areas across St. Louis

What it all means

What does the release of this RFI mean for fiber Internet in the city of St. Louis?

It means the city is taking notice of local demand for modern Internet infrastructure. It means that the need for more concentrated investment in fiber Internet infrastructure is needed. It means the city recognizes the link between Internet infrastructure development and economic development. It means St. Louisans are making their voices heard. And finally, and very thankfully, it means the city understands that Internet access is essential to participation in the modern knowledge economy and cannot be denied to the economically disadvantaged.

This is tremendous news and a giant leap in the right direction. But there’s plenty more work to be done. As the Post-Dispatch notes, Arch Fiber Networks is already available in several downtown buildings, and the service provided by our partners at Elite Systems, Inc. is already priced at a competitive level when compared to providers in other parts of the country. But we’re still looking to hear from residents and business owners who are interested in our mission.

Reaching goals three and four, as laid out by the RFI, will require unprecedented levels of cooperation, effort and investment. They will require local actors and stakeholders to work together like never before. The challenge is not small, but the effects on the city of St. Louis will be nothing less than transformative. Success will establish our city as an economic powerhouse in the Midwest and help us to attract talent from all over the globe.

So let’s get to work. Or better yet, let’s keep at it.