Bedford Park gets ultrafast fiber Internet

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Businesses in Bedford Park have access to the fastest downloads on the market following an expansion of Comcast’s fiber network.

Fiber Internet with speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second is now available to businesses that choose to contract with the cable giant.

“Say you have a transportation company — and you have 100 trucks and want to see where they are in real time using GPS,” said Comcast spokesman Jack Segal. “Fiber would help you monitor all of those trucks out in the field.”

Ultra-high-speed Internet could be particularly valuable to large and Internet-heavy businesses that exchange information through virtual private networks and use cloud services, Segal said.

Businesses in Bedford Park more often rely on traditional coaxial cable services, according to Village President David Brady.

Segal explained the difference between fiber and coaxial cables: “With fiber, you can get upload and download speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second. With the coaxial cable, it’s 100 megabits per second to download. So you get greater speed with fiber.” He said the upload speed for Comcast’s coaxial cables is 10 megabits per second.

Comcast’s fiber network won’t be available to residential users, but AT&T said this week that it is launching an all-fiber network in Chicago with speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second.

A spokeswoman for AT&T said she could not yet reveal whether the new services would be offered in Bedford Park or when the launch would occur.

Segal said Bedford Park is one of just a few areas in the state where Comcast “proactively” added fiber, including the Chicago Loop, the I-90 corridor from Rosemont to Schaumburg and the I-88 corridor from Oak Brook to Aurora.

The Comcast fiber network in Bedford Park covers from Harlem Avenue west to Cicero Avenue and from 65th to 73rd streets. Brady said these parameters cover the majority of the area’s businesses. The Bedford Park network took five months to build.

Jerry Oksanen, head of IT at Midway Windows and Doors in Bedford Park, was excited about having a fiber network in the area.

“We have a big TV screen set up and are doing audio conference and demonstrations through the Internet, he said. “We’re doing more and more of that stuff and it just seems like we’re just eating up our bandwidth.”

Oksanen said his company relies on a T1 or T2 phone Internet service that allows 6 gigabits per second for uploads and downloads.

“We have storage here but we also have external backups out on the cloud, which takes up bandwidth for our Internet here. We also have remote order entry. We have companies that order stuff through us and they send the orders through, so that’s more [bandwidth],” he said.

“So we definitely would be a company that would need that.”

Neither Comcast nor AT&T have announced the cost of the new fiber services. Segal said quotes are typically provided on “an as-needed basis.”

—Tara Kadioglu, Sun-Times Media

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