Lancaster and MAW Communications to Build Muni Fiber Network

  • MAW Communications
LANCASTER, PA — The city of Lancaster has entered into a strategic agreement with MAW Communications, a facilities-based Pennsylvania telecommunications carrier, to build a municipal broadband network for the city and operate it as the ISP. This agreement and network model is the first of its kind in Pennsylvania.

The city’s network will be constructed in phases over the next eighteen months. Initial phases call for the deployment of Secure Wi-Fi access points that will make free Wi-Fi Internet access available in public spaces throughout the city, at speeds up to 300 million bits per second.

Deploying over 1,000 Strand Miles of Fiber Optic Facilities

MAW will also deploy over 1,000 strand miles of fiber optic facilities, thus making secure broadband services initially available to approximately two thirds of Lancaster residents, businesses, educational and healthcare institutions. Future phases will deploy the network throughout the remaining one third of the city. As part of this deployment, the city is working with the School District of Lancaster to determine how the city network can best serve the needs of households that currently lack Internet access.

The city’s municipal carrier agreement with MAW is based upon a revenue sharing model in which a network subscription fee is assessed to customers who utilize the Municipal Broadband Network. The fee is collected by MAW on behalf of the city. Wherever possible, MAW will contract with city-based businesses to provide technical support, subscription sales, marketing, and customer service for the city’s network subscribers.

Enhancing City Services

Initially, the fiber network will be used for applications that enhance city services and lower the cost of providing public works, public safety, and code inspection services including:

  1. Automated Meter Reading (AMR) – The network will allow remote water meter reading and monitoring that can detect residential plumbing leaks and provide early detection of leaks in city water mains, thereby avoiding costly and disruptive water main breaks. Initial analysis indicates that this technology will save taxpayers an estimated $130,000 to $200,000 per year.

  2. Enhanced Traffic Signal Control – The network will allow for remote traffic signal control and monitoring of traffic congestion and pedestrian movement in order to improve vehicular and pedestrian safety.

  3. Safety Coalition Cameras – Video cameras located throughout the city will be able to connect to the network. This will reduce the Coalition’s cost of maintaining its video network infrastructure and will also allow for lower cost expansion of the camera network.

  4. Data-Sharing, Cloud Storage and Contingency Planning – The network will allow for remote and redundant digital archiving of records to reduce costs and increase the resiliency of the city’s information resources.

  5. Code Compliance and Law Enforcement – Code inspectors and police officers will be able to transmit reports, access databases and share data in real time using a secure, private network.

  6. Operations – City taxpayers will save nearly $110,000 each year in fees currently paid to vendors that provide the city with Internet access, VOIP phone service, and air cards.

The city's priority over the past decade has been dictated by the need to invest in long-deferred maintenance and/or replacement of the city’s aging infrastructure. During the same time period, the city has been exploring the financial feasibility as well as the strategic benefits of establishing a Municipal Broadband Network. After careful consideration, we can say with confidence that Lancaster’s Municipal Broadband Network will provide residents, visitors, and business owners with access to the fastest, lowest cost, most secure and most reliable broadband connectivity available anywhere, today, tomorrow and well into the future.


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