San Leandro's public libraries became the fastest Internet provider of any public library system in California on Monday, when city officials plugged their network into the Lit San Leandro fiber optic loop.
Lit San Leandro is an 11-mile circle of underground fiber optic cables that give this Bay Area community one of the most advanced Internet infrastructures in the nation, according to the Wall Street Journal.
At a ceremony Monday afternoon Mayor Stephen Cassidy said San Leandro's library had "at least 10-fold greater speed than any other library in California."
For the 50,000 patrons who visit the city's libraries each month, that will mean a faster way to do research, file job applications or browse the web.
On hand for Monday's event was software entrepreneur Patrick Kennedy, the force behind Lit San Leandro.
Kennedy has invested about $3 million of his own money to run the fiber loop through San Leandro, which was once home to manufacturing giants like Caterpillar Tractor.
"Manufacturing in the future is going to be very Internet intensive," said Kennedy, who sees proximity to fiber as analagous to railroad access a century ago.
The fiber loop is not completely done, Kennedy said Monday. But San Leandro businesses are already tapping into the high-speed system by using microwave relays that beam fast Internet service to commercial buildings without the fuss of underground trenching.
What sorts of businesses would want fast Internet?
Juan Carlos Herrera, a salesman for CrossLink.com, an Internet connectivity provider, offered one example.
Dentists who do Invisalign braces take images of the patient's teeth which must be transmitted offsite for fabrication -- a data intensive task.
Commercial property owners are seeing the advantages of high-speed Internet.
At Monday's ceremony, John Colon of Gateway Commercial Real Estate said he is eager to get a microwave link to his office building at 400 Estudillo Street, not far from the relay dish above the Main Library.
By offering faster Internet as a utility he thinks his office building will be more attractive to commercial tenants.