Fiber optic loop brings new business to Butte


BUTTE, Mont. - A new cyber-security company is starting up in Butte, and according to the company, it's the city's new high-speed internet fiber optic loop that is making this possible. The loop launched in January, connecting Butte's public schools, local government and some businesses to the high-speed internet. The fiber optic loop is in the basement of the Thorton Building on East Broadway and travels 28 miles from Uptown Butte, south to Harrison Avenue and ends at Highlands College. The city received almost $400,000 in grants from the Department of Commerce and the Washington Foundation to complete the fiber optic loop. Butte-Silver Bow held a press conference with leaders of corporations and businesses connected to the loop. Anthony Cochenour is the president of Hoplite Industries. Cochenour recently announced he is basing his cyber-security firm in Uptown Butte, and said the fiber optic loop was a key factor in his decision. "For us, every piece of security data that we feed into customer networks requires internet access, requires high speed networks, and the faster, the more reliable, the better," said Cochenour. Cochenour said he sees every business connected to the loop as a potential customer. "It's great to have such a ready-made audience," he said. "And, say, if you're already on the fiber network let us -- not experiment -- but let us get things lit up quickly so we can shake it down and let it do what it needs to do." Cochenour and those potential customers were all in the crowd at a press conference Tuesday held by Butte-Silver Bow to learn more about the fiber optic loop and to discuss how to market it. "They're not sort of thinking or dreaming about it, they're actually bringing experts in, they're bringing the resources in to try to help spawn activity," said President of Fatbeam Greg Green. Green is the creator of the fiber optic loop and said all the talk in the meeting is helping him see what Butte really wants. "I think one of the things I learned from being here is what the community really needs, what are we lacking as a company that we can help provide business leaders in the community to help make them successful," said Green. What Butte-Silver Bow Chief Executive Matt Vincent wants is for the loop to help existing businesses grow and to attract new ones to the Mining City. "These are the type of things that we need to be doing differently if we want to start attracting the younger generation and some of these new 21st century jobs and filling these old unbelievable historical buildings that are largely vacant right now," he said. For Butte, Cochenour's firm is the first step to fulfilling that goal. The Hoplite Industries president will be hiring about 15 new employees in the next year and he said he will be looking to Montana Tech for those employees.

The city also announced that a $50,000 grant will go towards marketing the fiber optic loop.

The loop makes Butte the first multi-gigabit city in the state.