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Not long ago, we brought you news about the status of the new network being constructed in Carroll County, Maryland. The County is partnering with local Maryland Broadband Cooperative to provide better service to local businesses.
Earlier this week, Brett Lake of the Carroll County Times reported that Westminster, a town of about 18,000 residents in the north central part of the state, will move forward with a broadband feasibility study. From the article:
The study will include an assessment of the city’s long-term broadband needs, a market and benefits study, analysis and business plan, a detailed installation plan and options for potential funding opportunities.
Among the scope of work performed for the study includes the likely long-term broadband needs of Westminster’s community including residents, businesses and industrial parks.
The study will also provide the city with the potential market for fiber-based voice, data and video services along with the opportunities and obstacles for economic development related to the fiber-based services.
The city will also receive a report on the benefits and risks of community broadband initiatives on various fields including education, public safety, healthcare, economic development and government services.
The study is scheduled to be completed within nine months. We look forward to following the developments in Westminster.
Two years ago, we reported on the emerging partnership between Carroll County, Maryland, and the Maryland Broadband Cooperative (MBC) to build a fiber network to local business clients. The County financed the investment in part through cost savings obtained as a result of transitioning away from expensive T1 lines.
This summer, the Carroll County Office of Technology Services reported that the network is on track to be completed by January, 2013. In an interview with the Carroll County Times, Mark Ripper noted that the network is 60% complete. When deployed, the Carroll County Public Network (CCPN) will be 110 miles long and connect 132 sites, including the county public schools, the public library, and Carroll County Community College.
Carroll is one of a group of Maryland counties that comprise the Inter-County Broadband Network, a group of local government entities partnering to connect the smaller municipal networks across Maryland like the CCPN.
Back in 2007, when the CCPN was in its infancy, a Baltimore Sun article discussed significant cost savings estimated for the local library:
Currently, Ripper said the county pays $3,300 a month to connect all the local library branches to the Internet. Those costs will be eliminated once the network is built out.
Savings to the schools, the libraries, the college, and county government are expected to be significant. Short term annual savings for all four entities are estimated at $950,000 per year in leased line costs, according to a 2010 Carroll County Credit Rating Report. The report goes on to estimate potential revenue from the network at $300,000 to $600,000 in the short term and as high as $3,600,000 to $7,200,000 in the long term, depending on how the network is used in the future. The credit report PDF is available here.
The county brought the broadband cooperative in to lease out unused fiber on the county’s 110-mile network, which it built over the past two years. The cooperative will connect business customers with its own members, which include various sizes of Internet service providers that can link the businesses to the network. Prices will vary depending on the service provider and location of the business.The Carroll County Times offers greater coverage in a story by Marc Shapiro. The County's $9 million network is financed in part with cost savings from transitioning away from $600/month T1 lines and is the result of many years of work. Remember that a T1 offers 1.5 Mbps of connectivity, the new fiber network likely offers 100Mbps to 1Gbps today and is capable of offering much greater capacity in the future. Building these networks is a far smarter move than leasing T1 lines.
Every county school, every major county facility and Carroll Community College is on broadband Internet, said Mark Ripper, chief information officer with the Carroll County Department of Technology Services. All county facilities and libraries and the board of education will have broadband Internet shortly, he said. The Maryland Broadband Cooperative, a public/private partnership that promotes economic development through technological infrastructure, will lease the "dark fiber," unused fiber, to its member companies, who can in turn sell Internet service to local businesses. The MDBC has 59 members, about 30 of which are Internet providers, said Patrick Mitchell, president and CEO of the MDBC.