Fiber proponent suggests data center on Lake Superior

Paul Bergman thinks he’s got an idea to boost interest in Lake County’s fiber optic network, which is receiving $66 million in federal stimulus money.

Get Verizon to put a big new data center on the shores of Lake Superior.

The idea was prompted by Verizon’s announcement last month that it was pulling the plug on plans to build a data center in Somerset, N.Y., which held the promise of 175 high-paying jobs and billions in investments. The center would have housed computers configured to meet Verizon’s increasingly intense computing and data storage needs. The company cited a lawsuit against it and other delays.

Why not Lake County? Bergman asks. “We have land, climate; we have the water they want. We have no tornadoes; we have stable ground, no earthquakes,” says Bergman, a Lake County commissioner who has been a strong proponent of the county building its own fiber network to supply broadband access to all residents.

The network, of course, would be a necessity to entice Verizon. Bergman said today that the county plans to approach Verizon in May.

Meanwhile, a Verizon spokesman didn’t hold out much hope. Since its Somerset decision, the company has enhanced its data center capabilities with the purchase of an existing company, Terremark. It’s “still looking at a property in Wyoming,” spokesman John Bonomo wrote in an email, “but that is all at the moment.”

And then, he opened the door a slight crack — “Having said that, we are always looking at opportunities for any number of projects that we work on.”

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