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Norfolk’s City Council voted last week to spend as much as $6 million to build a regional fiber ring. Estimates say it’ll cost roughly $24 million.

Andria McClellan, a Norfolk councilwoman, said the fiber ring will be the so-called “middle mile” of superfast internet.

Ultra-high-speed undersea cables arrived in Virginia Beach a couple of years ago. That’s the ring’s starting point. The fiber ring would run access to those cables into every southside city.

Private internet companies will be able to tap the fiber ring and provide ultrafast service to homes and businesses.

So why spend millions in tax dollars to supercharge local internet speeds?

"To bring down the barriers and lower the cost of internet to create more competition in our community, as well as to provide really fast internet speeds for the most advanced technology companies - whether it's in health care, advanced manufacturing, financial technology, et cetera - to bring them to the area," McClellan said.

The plan is to have the southside fiber ring operational in about 2 years. After that, there are tentative plans for one on the Peninsula and a connection between the two.

Disclosure: McClellan is a past member of WHRO’s Board of Directors.