Ramsey County to get county buildings connected from Comcast

The Pioneer Press reports

After once considering breaking ties, the Ramsey County Board has chosen a familiar Internet provider to build out its high-speed broadband network: Comcast.

The Philadelphia-based telecommunications giant will provide broadband and managed-network services for the county government’s building-to-building communications, with tiered levels of service depending upon the location.

For instance, the county’s 911 emergency dispatch center in St. Paul would receive “redundant,” or backup, services to ensure data access 24 hours a day and seven days a week, while buildings with less communications needs would get a lower-tier data connection.

Johanna Berg, a spokeswoman for Ramsey County, said that unlike the city of St. Paul’s I-Net system, which is run by Comcast, the county is served by Comcast and a number of different network providers. The new contract with Comcast will replace those agreements.

As a Ramsey County resident, I’m a little disappointed. Fall of 2012, they were looking a public-private fiber partnership that would have gotten me closer to fiber connectivity. I know they announced last summer that they were looking at a solution for county-sites only. I guess I was hoping they might reconsider. I look at the work that Dakota County has done to reduce their costs via fiber (bills have gone from $700,000 to $15,000) and I know they are making efforts to make it easier for a private provider to come in to serve the needs of their local businesses and I wonder if Ramsey County might do well in the long term to consider some similar approaches.

The Pioneer Press article concisely retells what happened in 2012…

Ramsey County had once planned to build a $14 million ultra-fast fiber-optic, or “dark fiber,” network through a partnership with a private company, the Minnesota Fiber Exchange.

The network, which would have been built underground, would have allowed businesses and the city of St. Paul to lease space on the lines and transfer large data files between buildings at super-quick speeds. The plan received heavy criticism from Comcast and the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, which called the proposal risky and expensive. The deal fell apart in late 2012.

Last summer Ramsey County claimed that this arrangement opened the door to high tech developments…

That way, officials figure, the county’s immediate business needs will be met while leaving the door open to future high-tech developments.

This entry was posted in Government, MN by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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