Allegany goes wireless

Allegany County officials in Maryland expects by the beginning of June to complete a wireless network that will provide broadband network access for almost all of its residents and businesses, one of the largest rollouts so far of municipal wireless services.

The county believes the network, which will cost $4.7 million, will be a crucial factor in enticing commercial Internet service providers to the county. The municipality will not provide the service itself but offer the wireless network as last mile connectivity for providers to get service to users.

The nearest large market for ISPs is over 60 miles away in the city of Hagerstown, and service providers haven't been encouraged enough by the potential in Allegany County to invest there, according to Jeff Blank, the county's networking supervisor.

But with the announcement of the new network, "we have got indications that this will bring them in," he said.

Given the reluctance of major service providers to move into Allegany County, the county had to develop the network itself for economic development, Blank said.

"It was more a case that if we do not build it then they would not come," he said.

The county runs an existing wireless network called AllCoNet 1 that connects only nonprofits, schools and public offices. AllCoNet 2 will make broadband access available to 85 percent of county residencies, 95 percent of businesses and 100 percent of the industrial parks in the county.

AllCoNet 2 provides backbone data rates of over 620 megabits/sec, while the connections to the customer premise will be at various tiered service levels of from 500 kilobits/second up to OC-3, or 155 megabits/sec.

AllCoNet 2 itself will not deliver any private-sector applications or service, Blank pointed out, just empty pipes for the ISPs to use.

Blank said the wireless network was really the only way to provide countywide broadband access. It would have cost the county $189 million for the local exchange carrier to lay enough fiber to get complete county coverage, he said.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

Featured

  • Defense
    Ryan D. McCarthy being sworn in as Army Secretary Oct. 10, 2019. (Photo credit: Sgt. Dana Clarke/U.S. Army)

    Army wants to spend nearly $1B on cloud, data by 2025

    Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said lack of funding or a potential delay in the JEDI cloud bid "strikes to the heart of our concern."

  • Congress
    Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) at the Hack the Capitol conference Sept. 20, 2018

    Jim Langevin's view from the Hill

    As chairman of of the Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committe and a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rhode Island Democrat Jim Langevin is one of the most influential voices on cybersecurity in Congress.

Stay Connected

FCW INSIDER

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.