Cambria County, Pennsylvania launches countywide wireless network

Cambria County, Pennsylvania has launched its countywide wireless network (Cambria Connected) which will be used mainly for public safety, but also for government, education and commercial use. Among the applications that will run on the network are land mobile radio (LMR) with simulcast backhaul, automatic meter reading, business and residential broadband, video surveillance, high speed mobility, SCADA, metro-LAN services and community Wi-Fi. The goal of Cambria Connected is to reduce the county’s monthly communications costs dramatically while at the same time, improving the public safety network.

This is not a countywide Wi-Fi network. There are four layers to this network: TDM, ATM, fixed point-to-point, and at the edges, Wi-Fi. The county is opening up the network for wholesale access and three Internet service providers have already signed up.

“The vision of Cambria County is now a model of how a multi-service network can benefit an entire community,” Brent Mortensen, president of CONXX (the firm that designed the network), said. “The county took the opportunity to build a network to improve public safety while simultaneously accelerating broadband availability to benefit the local residents and businesses.”

“Our new public safety network not only enhances voice communications, but it is the first such network in Pennsylvania capable of supporting high-speed mobile data applications, including live streaming video, computer-aided dispatch and access to GIS applications from the public safety vehicles and station locations throughout the county,” said Brian Feist, Cambria County’s executive director of emergency services. “This capability significantly improves first responder safety and the quality of the services we provide.”

AllCoNet2, the countywide wireless network in Allegany County, Maryland also uses the CONXX platform mainly for economic development and education. Like Cambria County, AllCoNet saves the Allegany a lot of money ($1 million a year in savings on telecommunications costs).

Costs of deploying and maintaining the network

The Cambria Connected Network cost $10 million to deploy (this was the cost for the the CONXX backbone and the M/A-COM public safety radio network). The deployment included:

  • M/A-COM  Public Safety radio network
  • 17  tower OC-12 , SONET ring architecture
  • Fully  redundant design, including power, data hardware and towers.
  • Alvarion  5.8GHz Point to Multi-point throughout the county
  • Alvarion  900Mhz mobility solution throughout the county
  • Full  AES encryption on the network traffic
  • Selective  Wi-Fi deployment
  • Network  Management System
  • NOC  facilities
  • Carrier  Internet POP connection

For the first three years, the annual maintenance costs are less than 3 percent of the network build cost ($300,000). The costs include staffing and technical personnel, tower maintenance, equipment maintenance, software and radio maintenance and carrier internet connectivity costs. After three years, CONXX anticipates the identified annual maintenance costs not to exceed 4 percent of the network build ($400,000) cost as equipment maintenance agreements are extended from their original agreements.
See related post:

County-wide wireless broadband in Allegany, Maryland