Broadband Communities

NOV-DEC 2018

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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N O V E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 8 | w w w. b r o a d b a n d c o m m u n i t i e s . c o m | B R O A D B A N D C O M M U N I T I E S | 3 9 firms and IT firms. Because they employ high-paid, highly skilled personnel, they add significantly to the city's tax rolls. Other establishments that were already in Fairlawn report that their businesses are growing because they now have the connectivity they need to expand. A BOON TO RESIDENTS After bringing the city's business connectivity options up to speed, Staten and other city leaders turned their efforts to serving residents. In early 2017, demand for better residential internet access was already high. In the neighborhood where the first installations are taking place, 80 percent of households committed to installation. By the end of 2017, the city finished deployment and connected 1,500 premises. By April 2018, almost 50 percent of premises in Fairlawn were connected to the network; officials had banked on a 35 percent penetration rate to break even. For property owners who consider the investment value of the fiber network, residential connection is a boon to their homes. Property values have risen in part due to the availability of the network, which makes Fairlawn a more desirable place for families and businesses. Mike Perkins' family used to pay $80 per month for 30 Mbps download and much slower upload speeds; now they're on FairlawnGig. "Everybody is happy," Perkins says. "I haven't heard my son once say, 'Dad, the internet is slow,' and I used to hear that all the time." FIXED WIRELESS FOR PUBLIC SPACES After completing the FTTH deployment, the city turned its attention to the fixed wireless complement, which is intended to blanket the entire city. Staten and others felt that offering fixed wireless on FairlawnGig would allow the city's many daily visitors to avoid using their mobile data plans. FairlawnGig intends to provide three wireless options: • A traditional free guest network like those many commercial establishments offer • A 100 percent secure, fee-based plan that provides 30/30 Mbps service for about $10 per month, available on a month-by-month basis for use with mobile devices • An option for FTTH subscribers or business subscribers that would also offer 100 percent secure, 30/30 Mbps service for no extra charge. Subscribers would access the service with a special password. Fairlawn is still working on obtaining access to poles and hammering out details but hopes to have the fixed wireless network functioning all across the city by 2019. A REGIONAL NETWORK Now that the city has the connectivity it longed for when it started the process, FairlawnGig is expanding to serve the other communities of the JEDD. In June 2018, the city of Fairlawn and the Medina County Fiber Network (MCFN) announced they would collaborate to expand FairlawnGig via the MCFN infrastructure. MCFN, a publicly owned, open-access fiber network, has served the region for about six years. e dark fiber was a project of the Medina County Port Authority and first connected Highland schools in 2012. e collaboration will boost connectivity in the region for residents and provide even more competitive options for businesses in Akron and other JEDD communities. By leasing capacity on the MCFN, FairlawnGig can expand in an east- west direction to balance the existing north-south route. Akron businesses have already contacted FairlawnGig offices, seeking more information about subscribing. Businesses in Akron have access to connectivity from incumbents Spectrum and AT&T, but services are limited and expensive. A limited number of other ISPs offer business connectivity via the MCFN. FairlawnGig will be the first ISP on the MCFN to offer connections of up to 10 Gbps to business subscribers. According to Staten, FairlawnGig is beginning slowly with internet access and telephone services but hopes to offer additional services to businesses in the future. In keeping with FairlawnGig's aim to provide high-quality customer service for local subscribers, Staten believes that businesses will also find value in the personal service and accountability of a publicly owned ISP. Residents in the more rural areas west of Akron have already contacted FairlawnGig offices to learn more about service from the municipal network. When Fairlawn decided to invest in fiber infrastructure to bring high-quality internet access to the community, it moved quickly and saw positive results rapidly. Businesses and residents in Fairlawn were ready for a municipal network and the benefits it promised and delivered. With local success fueling FairlawnGig's momentum, a need in the neighboring communities, and room for growth to serve the Cleveland suburb's environs, the future looks favorable for FairlawnGig. v Lisa Gonzalez is a senior researcher at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. She can be reached at lgonzalez@ilsr.org. is article was based in part on reporting by Hannah Trostle. Eighteen new businesses have moved to Fairlawn, in large part because of the FTTP network, and other businesses say fiber connectivity is allowing them to expand.

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