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By Meg Sullivan
PBN Staff Writer
NEWPORT – Despite Newport’s highly cultivated historical spirit, the city’s populace is currently pursuing technological advancement in the hopes of transforming the community into a “historic high-tech city” as put by Naomi L. Neville, a city counselor.
The Newport city council has established an information technology working group comprised of member of the business community and city residents, as well as of representatives from entities such as Broadband Rhode Island and the Preservation Society of Newport County.
The IT group is reportedly the first of its kind to be established in Rhode Island and will function to propose improvements for fiber-optic and gigabit speed access and to assess infrastructure currently in place.
In an attempt to go beyond the standard broadband high speed internet that it currently offers, Newport is taking measures to make gigabit-speed internet access possible within its community. Gigabit-speed Internet operates roughly 100 times faster than average high speed Internet. Access to high speed Internet that is not widely available has the potential to make Newport a competitive destination for entrepreneurs, some believe the improvement would also be welcomed by visitors to the city who seek internet access.
“We can’t compete here with the huge office parks in the Midwest,” Neville said in a statement. “We’re working on balancing preservation with the ability to use our buildings.”
Newport’s ambitions answer a national push to create gigabit communities. The effort is motivated by the claim that high speed access to internet will encourage economic competitiveness and innovation.
The city has identified steps necessary to make its high-tech ambitions reality. Building or infrastructure projects launched in the future should be consistently considered for fiber-optic cable installation, for example. Additionally, the city’s leaders have recognized that sharing software amongst the communities of Aquidneck Island is a worthwhile pursuit that can potentially lead to more extensive technological collaboration.
Newport’s IT group will also pursue expanding digital literacy promotion. The group will potentially offer the public basic education on technology infrastructure terms and definitions in the future.