Imagine if Borders and Barnes & Noble, claiming it was killing their book sales, asked lawmakers to ban cities from building libraries. The legislators would laugh them out of the State House. Yet the same thing is happening right now with respect to Wi-Fi and other municipal broadband plans, and it is being taken all too seriously. In fact, although it is almost universally acknowledged that broadband access is essential to economic growth and education, phone and cable companies are lobbying furiously to prohibit municipalities from providing free or discounted broadband to their residents.
Medina County, Ohio, Celebrates Fiber Network Completion
Community leaders in Medina County, Ohio, recently celebrated the completion of the Medina County Fiber Network (MCFN). Loren Grenson of the Medina Gazette reported on the celebratory breakfast event where officials proclaimed, “The monopoly is dead. Long live the fiber loop."
Local businesses already rave about the county owned MCFN, which offers Internet access, data tranport, and dark fiber leasing. From the article:
Automation Tool and Die in Brunswick is one of 20 entities already tied into the fiber network. The network provides better service to the company’s four buildings in Brunswick’s Northern Industrial Park, said Jacob Mohoric, company IT manager.
“It’s a blazing-fast Internet connection at all four of our buildings at an effective cost,” Mohoric said.
Company co-owner J. Randy Bennett said the network provided the first decent bandwidth for his company since it moved to Brunswick in 1983.
“We had no good bandwidth source and we paid through the nose for what we did have,” Bennett said.
Last July, the Highland School District was near the end of an expensive contract with Time Warner Cable. The network was not complete, but enough MCFN infrastructure was in place to connect the schools for Internet and phone service. Highland Schools now pay about $82,000 less per year for connectivity.
Community leaders began working on the project over ten years ago. After years of planning, the Medina County Port Authority (MCPA) secured $14.4 million in bonds and a $1.4 million stimulus award. The stimulus funding is part of a 2010 grant to nonprofit OneCommunity, charged with extending fiber to 22 Ohio counties. OneCommunity will manage the network.
The 151-mile asset belongs to the MCPA but the entire community considers itself an "owner." Bethany Dentler, executive director of the Medina County Economic Development Corp., also spoke at the celebration:
Dentler said the 151 miles of line through Medina County are a source of pride for the community and a unique collaborative investment in infrastructure.
“The best part is that this network belongs to all of us,” she said. “Not just the Medina Port Authority, not just the Medina County Economic Development Corp., but it’s a publicly owned network that belongs to the entire Medina community.”