Hudson -- Businesses have an opportunity to sign up now for the city-owned, high-speed wireless service, which will be available in the downtown area this summer.

The city hosted an open house Jan. 27 about Velocity Broadband at the Hudson Library & Historical Society.

Staff answered questions and passed out literature to more than 40 businesses.

"They are very excited," said City Office Manager Maureen Reich, who is in charge of Velocity sales. "They ask 'when is it coming?' and 'how much does it cost?'"

It was a good turnout, said Communications Manager Jody Roberts.

"I had meeting with the Merchants Association, and they are excited about the reliability and speed involved," she said.

The larger businesses understand the importance of the product, Roberts said. Other companies can't match the gigabit speeds for uploading and downloading information.

"It's important to retailers who have to read credit cards," Roberts said.

The city's fiber-optic network works faster than DSL or cable and is more reliable, two requirements city businesses demanded and said they weren't receiving in past surveys conducted by the city.

"Fiber is reliable," Roberts said. "It's brand new fiber and not old copper wire that's been in the ground forever."

Hudson Public Power is laying the fiber, the Information Services department is working on various IT aspects and the finance department is working on billing and customer service.

Construction on placing fiber cable underground or on poles will begin in the spring, Reich said.

The first downtown customers could be connected around May, said Network Systems Administrator Will Ersing. The city could bring the fiber in through a couple of paths, and location could be determined by demand.

Roberts suggested businesses sign up to show their interest in broadband, and that could determine where work begins.

About a dozen customers were connected on Executive Parkway and two have been connected on Milford Drive. Another 30 are waiting to be connected in the Milford area.

More than 160 have signed up as potential customers this year, Reich added.

Fiber connections could spread from Milford to the Acme Plaza and over to First & Main.

"It's an economic driver," Reich said. "Businesses are looking at office space because of the service, and it is retaining businesses in town."

New businesses are coming to the Milford area because it's already there, Roberts said. Fast Internet speed and reliability are economic development drivers to attract and retain businesses.

"We are the first gigabit city in Northeast Ohio, and you can't get that speed in other places," Roberts said.

To sign up or for more information, visit HudsonVelocity.com email at Velocity@Hudson.oh.us or call 330-342-9544.

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP