Magazine article District Administration

Do-It-Yourself Fiber Networks: A Good Deal or Not?

Magazine article District Administration

Do-It-Yourself Fiber Networks: A Good Deal or Not?

Article excerpt

High-capacity fiber networks are the way to go in telecommunications these days and some school systems ore joining other state and local government agencies in building their own. But private-sector interests question whether it's a smart move.

School administrators in Douglas County, Ga., on Atlanta suburb, say theyinexplored all options when they upgraded bandwidth between central offices and the district's 31 schools. They needed greater capacity to improve Internet access and allow for online testing and other voice, video and data capabilities, says Cory Martin, the district's director of information technology.

Commercial providers would have done the job, but cost estimates were higher and benefits lower than the school system anticipated. "So we asked ourselves," says Martin, "what would it cost us to put our own fiber on the poles?"

The Douglas County district created an agreement with the local electric company to use its poles at no cost. For a one-lime outlay of $2.2 million, the school system built its own network. The only recurring expense now is less than $100,000 a year for maintenance. Overall, he figures the district saves $500,000 annually on communications and also has excess capacity that it possibly could use to generate revenue for the district in the future. "It just made good business sense for us to do it ourselves," he concludes.

Although no national data is available, other school systems ore bypassing local providers and finding their own ways to gain the capacity they need and save money. …

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