The Summit County Public Safety Fiber and Communications Network will serve 31 Ohio city, village and township governments and public safety agencies.
Summit County, Ohio, plans to build a 125-mile fiber-optic ring and data center that will connect its 31 city, village and township governments to gigabit speed internet service.
Under legislation introduced June 13, the county will work with the city of Fairlawn on the design, construction and financing for the Summit County Public Safety Fiber and Communications Network’s fiber ring and data center. A regional council of governments, including Fairlawn, will manage the project, officials said in a press statement.
Local governments have limited options for internet service. Like consumers, they depend on providers that choose to serve a geographical location, often restricting their access to high-speed broadband. Officials cited data showing that 11% of Summit County’s populated areas have no access to even the minimum levels of upload and download speeds.
Initially, the Summit County network will provide high-speed, secure and affordable broadband for each community’s government operations and public safety agencies. The program will provide an interoperable public safety communications platform that will enhance information sharing for all 31 Summit County communities, the emergency radio system, consolidated dispatch center and virtual court platforms, according to Summit County’s capital improvement budget.
A $22 million data center will enable the county and connected communities to reduce costs by consolidating data storage, data backup, disaster recovery, data security and co-location of services, county officials said.
The network will be serviced by FairlawnGig, a local municipal broadband utility, owned and operated by the city of Fairlawn.
The first phase of the project, the fiber ring and data center is expected to be operational by 2025. In the second phase, the county will explore expanding Summit Connects to residents, businesses, schools and other interested entities through agreements with internet service providers.
“While we're looking at primarily government services and public safety, we also realize that with what would be called a middle mile network that connects all 31 communities, it creates the opportunity to partner with … private internet service providers who would then come in, bring private capital investment and invest in building out community-based networks and selling, providing internet services to residents and businesses off of those networks,” Brian Nelsen, chief of staff to Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro, told the Beacon Journal. “This is really a public-private partnership that we're envisioning, trying to leverage the best of what both government and public funds can bring with what the private sector can invest in and the services they could provide.”
The County will fund the anticipated $35 million cost of the fiber ring design and construction with a portion of its federal American Rescue Plan allocation. The $22 million for the data center construction and operations will come from County General Capital Improvement Funds.
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