SARASOTA – A British company plans to soup up a number of U.S. cities — including Sarasota — with ultra-high-speed fiber-optic Internet networks.
The discussions have been going on for several months, according to Rich Swier Jr., founder of the Sarasota think tank known as The Hub and a member of a recently created Sarasota broadband task force.
“They were following the Google fiber effort and we connected with them during that campaign,” Swier said.
Last week, Swier helped arrange what turned into a four-hour City Hall meeting with several city officials and executives from the British company. Participants included Mayor Kelly Kirschner, task force members, city information services chief Chance Craig and an official from the public works department.
In a Friday follow-up note to that meeting, Brian Foley, an i3 sales vice president, told Kirschner that the company “would like to move forward to the next step in the process of making Sarasota a FibreCity.”
Foley then outlined the information his company would “need to move forward with the ‘pilot.'”
Asked whether this meant that the British company was contemplating a fiber-optic build-out here, Foley told the Herald-Tribune in a brief phone conversation on Friday, “Yes, that is absolutely correct.
“We have a number of them going on and actually are going to be announcing some here in the states,” Foley said.
E-mails between i3 Group and Sarasota officials make it clear that the company is in early negotiations to build one of its systems within the city.
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