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FiberNet

FiberNet is Montgomery County’s flagship fiber-optic communications network.  FiberNet is the backbone infrastructure to enable delivery of communications services for all County agencies including:

  • Montgomery County Government (MCG)
  • Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS)
  • Montgomery College (MC)
  • Maryland National Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC)
  • Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC)
  • Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC)  

FiberNet has enabled the County to cost-effectively provide voice, data, video and WiFi services to County departments, offices and agencies.  FiberNet will enable the County to support further modernization of communications services, including expanded broadband capacity necessary to support increased usage of wireless devices within the workplace and within public spaces, and the transition to IP-based public safety communication services. 

In 2014, the County launched an initiative to create a Network Operations Center (NOC) to provide network monitoring, response and repair services for FiberNet at levels comparable to commercial facilities.  The NOC will enable FiberNet to evolve from a “best effort,” to a commercially reliable network that will support optical networking and next generation communication services.

In December 2014, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett announced Ultra Montgomery as part of his Six-Point Economic Plan.  The goal of Ultra Montgomery is to grow knowledge-based jobs and businesses within the County by making gigabit broadband more affordable and widely available to public, private, education and government institutions in major corridors and transit-oriented smart growth communities within the County.  Fiber capacity within FiberNet will be made available to commercial and non-profit broadband networks and service providers to facilitate transmission of broadband network traffic within the County and throughout the region.     

History

In serving a community of over 1,000,000 residents, the County Government consumes voice, video, and data services in large quantities.  In 1995, the County determined that cost savings could be realized, and a future-proof network could be created, by building its own facilities-based fiber optic network.  Leveraging work that the Department of Transportation (DoT) had already begun in building a fiber optic network for the Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS), DTS was given the mission of building an electro-optical network on top of the fiber plant that DoT had already placed.

MCG subsequently funded expansion of FiberNet using a combination of General Funds, Cable Fund Capital Grants, public-private partnerships with franchised cable operators and other Internet Service Providers, and federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Broadband Technology Opportunity Program grant funding.    

Governance for FiberNet is vested in the Information Technology Policy Coordinating Committee (ITPCC) with technical approval delegated to the ITPCC CIO Subcommittee.  The Department of Technology Services (DTS) provides technical leadership and is operationally responsible for FiberNet.

Network Footprint

The FiberNet network contains approximately 570 route miles, of which approximately 130 miles are underground.  Additional route miles are co-bundled with the County’s incumbent cable operator and the FiberNet network also used some leased facilities to reach some County agencies. 

As of April 2015, FiberNet serves 604 County and County agency facilities and locations.  Over the next few years, the County intends to expand the FiberNet fiber routes to reach 60 locations currently served using leased fiber. In addition, all new and significantly renovated County buildings include funding to construct a fiber connection to the FiberNet network. FiberNet locations and public WiFi locations are viewable on the map below:

FiberNet also interconnects to the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments’ Nation Capital Region NCRNet and the State of Maryland’s networkMaryland. Construction to complete interconnection of FiberNet to other members of the Inter-County Broadband Network is in process. 

Services Provided via FiberNet by Agency

MCG-Provided Technology Infrastructure & Services  for ITPCC Members Wide Area Network Connectivity Internet
Access
Disaster
Recovery Service
Video Connectivity Telephony & Wi-Fi Public Safety Communications Local Loop Cost Elimination
HOC        
MC      
MCG  
MCPS  
MNCPPC  
WSSC            

Specifically, FiberNet is used to provide the following services:

  • Data and telephone services for the County, including MC311
  • Internet connectivity for County government, two Montgomery College campuses, MCPS locations, HOC locations, MNCPPC locations, the City of Gaithersburg, Strathmore Arts, and Department of Economic Development (DED) business incubator sites
  • Public WiFi Service in 66 County buildings
  • Public Internet at all Montgomery County Public Libraries through connections to the Maryland State Sailor Internet service
  • Public Safety Radio Communications backhaul and will serve as the backbone for planned next generation IP public safety communications
  • Traffic management, signal monitoring and camera feed communications for the DoT
  • Judicial Video Services for the Montgomery County courts, including internal communications, communications with the State and video arraignment
  • Video Transmission to three franchised cable operators (Comcast, RCN, Verizon) from:
    • Cable County Montgomery
    • Montgomery College ITV 10
    • Montgomery County Public Schools Instructional Television
    • Montgomery Community Media
    • Montgomery Municipal Channel
    • Rockville 11
    • Takoma Park CityTV
  • Live Television Transmission capability from
    • The American Film Institute Theatre and Cultural Center (AFI Silver)
    • Bethesda Academy of Performing Arts’s (BAPA) Imagination Stage
    • Black Rock Center for the Arts
    • The Filmore Silver Spring
    • Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center
    • Montgomery College Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center
    • Olney Theatre Center
    • Round House Theatre Silver Spring  
    • Strathmore Music Center
    • All FiberNet locations
  • Health Database Access for Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) access to the Maryland State Department of Mental Health and Hygiene Services (DMHS) databases
  • Educational Database Access from MCPS locations to Maryland State educational databases

FiberNet Work Plan

The ITPCC Approved an FY2015-FY2016 Work Plan and provided an update to the County Council in September 2014 and April 2015.  The ITPCC’s priority work item for FiberNet was to establish a Network Operating Center (NOC) to provide proactive monitoring and repair responsiveness.

To address the ITPCC NOC request, in 2014, the County Council provided initial funding to create a 24x365 NOC.  The County Executive recommended $729,000 in additional funding to support full implementation of the NOC in FY2016.  The NOC will enable FiberNet to evolve from a “best effort” network, to a commercially reliable network that will support optical networking and next generation communication services.  The NOC is intended to enable the County to provide network monitoring, response and repair.

The FiberNet is also working on the following pilot projects:

  • Provide optical transport of communications services within FiberNet for Montgomery College and WSSC
  • Deploy GPON (gigabit passive optical networking) infrastructure within a County facility
  • Use FiberNet and in-building computer wiring infrastructure to deliver a commercial cable television service as an IP video signal in partnership with a competitive cable service provider

Fiscal Benefits of FiberNet

FiberNet is valuable and vital asset, as well as extremely cost effective operation.  The total annual FiberNet budget for FY2016 is projected to be $3.5 million for operating and an additional $4.2 million for capital expenditures.  It was estimated that purchase of a similar level of service from commercial providers would cost approximately $33 million annually. In addition, the planned next generation of public safety communications would require an additional $3 million in annual communication contract costs. 

Moreover, in prior years, the County has reduced its annual telephone services bill by $750,000 by using FiberNet for dialtone telephone services and further reduced its communications services bill by an additional $750,000 by using FiberNet instead of frame relay service.  In FY2017, the County intends to leverage FiberNet and SIP trunking to further reduce annual expenditures for communications services.  

 

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