County-wide wireless broadband in Allegany, Maryland

This is the ultimate municipal/county wireless broadband network. Allegany County, Maryland is deploying a network that will cover 85 percent of homes, 95 percent of businesses, and 100 percent of industrial parks in an area exceeding 550 square miles (1424 square kilometers). This makes it the largest municipal/county project I have seen so far. The project will cost approximately $1million. This is the ultimate municipal/county wireless broadband network. Allegany County, Maryland is deploying a network that will cover 85 percent of homes, 95 percent of businesses, and 100 percent of industrial parks in an area exceeding 550 square miles (1424 square kilometers). This makes it the largest municipal/county project I have seen so far. The project will cost approximately $1million. The equipment provider is Alvarion.

Apparently, the county got fed up waiting for a broadband service provider to do up the entire county, so they decided on a DIY solution. They created AllCoNet as a self-operated municipal carrier to deploy wireless broadband using both 6 GHz licensed frequency bands for a point-to-point ring around the network, as well as unlicensed frequency bands for point-to-multipoint connections. When completed, the county will grant local ISPs wholesale access to the network to provide services to residences and businesses.

It would have cost $189 million for a local exchange carrier to lay enough fiber for county-wide coverage. Although that fiber would have given the county more bandwidth, $189 million is way too much money. The network they will be deploying is a fraction of that price. Since they are acting as a passive network owner (as well as their own carrier), they are not crowding out the market for ISP service providers and can offer low wholesale prices to those ISPs.

The county already has a robust wireless broadband network that connects all public buildings so this project is an extension of an existing network.

There are so many communities around the world that can learn from Allegany’s experience, especially those that already ow a lot of dark fiber. I am thinking of all those fiber rings lying under the streets of cities like Amsterdam. It’s all about how fast you can get a wireless broadband network up and running, how cheap you can make it and how far you can reach.

Comments

  1. Allegany first began deploying wireless to replace leased lines and otherwise connect facilities in 1994. The credit needs to go to Jeff Blank, a local visionary and the current Networking Supervisor. Credit should also be given to a progressive civic leadership. Even before the Allconet 2 phase, this county had already replaced all their leased lines, with approximately 92 wireless connections, saving an aggregate of about $75,000 per month. In fact, they list many of the currently connected facilities via this link (scroll down a bit on the page): http://www.allconet2.com