MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Montgomery is now one of just four cities in the Southeast - and the first in Alabama - with an Internet Exchange, announced city leaders at a news conference Wednesday. The announcement means faster internet connections and a significant economic impact on the River Region and the rest of Alabama.
Think of it like this, officials say. Alabama just got a brand new (online) interstate system. Instead of your data 'driving' to its connection online at a data hub in a place such as Atlanta, it can connect at high speed locally in Montgomery via the Montgomery Internet Exchange, or MIX.
"We cannot overstate the significance of the Montgomery Cyber Connection to expanding industry in the River Region and putting Montgomery on the map..." said Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange. "This partnership and initial investments made by the city, the county, the Chamber and several local business leaders are the first steps to unleashing a wave of economic development that may rival Hyundai."
To put how big that is into perspective, the Hyundai development has created an annual economic impact on Alabama of nearly $5 billion.
The servers for MIX are housed at the RSA Data Center in downtown Montgomery. "We now have a sound economy..." said RSA chief Dr. David Bronner, who called the RSA-built data center the fourth leg on Alabama's economic stool.
Mayor Strange said for every one gigabyte, it's worth $1 million in economic development. The new development not only puts Montgomery on the path to becoming a gig city, it puts it on the path to becoming a 100 gig city.
The MIX will benefit from a partnership with Akamai Technologies, a global leader in content delivery network services, which will store servers at the RSA Data Center. Akamai chose to locate in Montgomery because of the global significance of the new Cyber College at Air University and because of local public and private partnerships in support of the military.
The Montgomery Cyber Connection will link Alabama's universities in research collaboration, support the new Air University Cyber College mission to strengthen national defense, and stimulate business development and tech startups, according to the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce. It will also boost the Montgomery metro economy and improve quality of life for area residents, chamber officials said.
HOW IT ALL STARTED
When General Steven Kwast came to Maxwell AFB as the commander of Air University, he quickly identified cyber as a new front of warfare that Air University would focus on. However, for Air Force cyber strategists to train and develop their capabilities, they needed access to the fastest and most reliable data connection.
Gunter Annex is home to an underground internet switch, or hub, but they needed to be able to connect to nearby Maxwell, sources say.
Instead of laying expensive new fiber at a cost of billions of dollars, Gen Kwast worked with Mayor Strange and the Chamber to connect the two military facilities with existing fiber. The "missing link" came through the RSA, which had the high-capacity data center needed to make everything work.
The results? Air University now gets a cyber war training ground and the City of Montgomery and Montgomery Chamber of Commerce get to make Alabama's capital city the fastest internet connection in Alabama. That, in turn, helps attract tech companies and high paying jobs.
ON THE WEB: http://www.mix-al.net/
Editor's Note: The Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA) is the primary lender to Raycom Media, the parent company of this station.