Greg Richardson and his Rome-based business Civitium LLC formally unveiled CrowdFiber on Tuesday night.
CrowdFiber is a crowdfunding application that seeks to unite people interested in expanding the broadband network and setting up gigabit communities, including one in Rome.
Downtown Rome already has GigNet — a gigabit-speed Internet service — launched by Parker FiberNet. The DeSoto Theatre, 7Hills Makerspace and Maker Village on Clock Tower Hill already are subscribers.
But the super high-speed service is only available in the downtown area bounded by First Avenue, East First Street, Turner McCall Boulevard and East Third Street.
During a news conference across from Rome’s iconic Clock Tower, Richardson explained how CrowdFiber allows community groups and service providers to cooperate on advancing their infrastructure.
“Service providers have a tough time making investments that give them the returns they want. Communities have a tough time doing anything about it,” Richardson said. “(CrowdFiber) allows service providers to aggregate demand. If they knew they could get 30 percent of the people in that area to subscribe to the service, they would make the investment — they could handle the operating expenses.”
Dave Parker, CEO and founder of Parker FiberNet, said Richardson and his team are pushing his company along to expand services to the larger community.
“CrowdFiber allows us to identify those customers, and those customers that want it, Parker said.”
People wanting the gigabit service can search for their addresses on the site to see if they’re in an active campaign area.
“If you’re in an active campaign area you have the opportunity to back the campaign and contribute to it being successful,” Richardson said.
The Rome campaign offers support levels ranging from $10 to $700. As of Tuesday night, there were six pledges totaling $3,400 — 30 percent of the goal to connect the service throughout the downtown area.
Residents pledging $300 and businesses pledging $700 would automatically be signed up as customers if the goal is met.
Tricia Steele with SAI Digital said the goal is to attract at least 20 new gigabit customers in the downtown area in the short-term future. If the goal is reached, customers could expect service within 30 days of the end of the campaign.
CrowdFiber has also launched campaigns in Baltimore, Md., Lawrence, Kan., Baldwin City, Kan., and Clarkesville, Ga. The campaigns are being led various service providers and community groups.