One on One with a ConnectNYC Fiber Challenge Winner: Digital Advising Agency Barrel


Their Chinatown office may boast a ping-pong table and two kegerators, but Barrel’s most important presence is on the web. Founded in 2006, the company helps other businesses develop and achieve their digital goals: from designing sleek websites to developing custom apps; tailoring online user experience to implementing content management systems.

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“As a digital agency whose main operations exist on the web, our Internet connection has a direct impact on how our business functions,” said Boram Kim, Barrel’s office manager. Let’s just say they’re one forward-thinking company that definitely doesn’t have time for a backwards Internet connection.

barrel staff One on One with a ConnectNYC Fiber Challenge Winner: Digital Advising Agency BarrelBut sadly, that’s exactly the situation Barrel had been dealing with—until last February, at least. “Our [pre-existing] Internet connection suffers from ‘node oversubscription,’ which means that the node servicing our area is highly utilized and experiences frequent down-time,” Ms. Kim said. She said Barrel currently has a cable/modem connection, with download/upload speeds of 50/5Mbps.

On December 27, 2012, Ms. Kim submitted an entry to the ConnectNYC Fiber Challenge, insisting to the city Economic Development Corporation that Barrel’s success and longevity would be directly determined by the quality of their Internet connection. “A fiber connection would have an incalculable impact on both our team dynamic and the quality of work we produce,” she wrote.

Ms. Kim got pretty specific about Barrel’s absolute need for speed. “We manage a majority of our client’s websites through web-based content management systems and FTP applications, which require us to interact with external servers on a real-time basis,” she said, adding that if Barrel had a better broadband connection, “The rate at which we can process requests and build web solutions will proliferate.”

Then, on February 6, came the delightful notification: Barrel learned they’d been selected as ConnectNYC Fiber Challenge winners (cue the kegerator!). Ms. Kim said her team is thrilled. “A fiber connection will dramatically change the way we operate, and our excitement grows day-to-day, as our delivery date closes in,” she said.

Construction was scheduled to start at the end of July, and is expected to take three to four months to complete. “[Construction] will be invasive in regard to our building, but our individual office space will not be noticeably altered,” Ms. Kim said, “We are especially appreciative of our landlord’s support, as she has been very helpful in coordinating the installation with Time Warner Cable.”

In a few months time, the Barrel team can look forward to symmetrical bandwith at 50Mbps. That sounds pretty sweet to us.

Oh, and don’t forget, the installation won’t cost Barrel a dime. “Our team is very excited about receiving Dedicated Internet Access over fiber,” said Ms. Kim, “…Winning the ConnectNYC Fiber Challenge has given us the much-needed opportunity to upgrade to new fiber optic technology that would otherwise be unavailable to us.”