Broadband Installation to Focus on Ellicott City, Nearby Areas, in Coming Months
There should be minimal traffic interruption, but look out for crews along the roads.
The Inter-County Broadband Network (ICBN) is expected to expand the number of work crews installing ducting and fiber optic cable in coming months in Ellicott City and the surrounding area as the project deadline nears.
Some ducting and fiber optic cable already have been installed in Ellicott City, including to the new Miller Branch Library and around Centennial Lane. And utility equipment already has been impaired, leading to temporary power outages in the Burleigh Manor area. For a weekly listing of where teams are operating, go to www.onemaryland-icbn.org.
In all, ICBN must engineer, provide the ducting, get pole attachment approval when necessary, and install and activate 800 miles of optical fiber cable by the summer of 2013, according to ICBN officials. While some six work crews are typically out now around the 10 jurisdictions covered by ICBN, that number is expected to jump to 15 or 20 daily as the deadline gets closer.
Even with the added crews, however, Lori Sherwood said, “We expect little to no traffic delays on the road.” Sherwood is ICBN's broadband program director.
Areas where crews are working will be fully marked with cones, labeling, and other signage, according to Ira Levy, director of technology and communication services for the County. He also said crews will work on the shoulders or right of way on the sides of the road and poles and not on the roads themselves. Traffic and safely, he said, are top priorities, as such there will be consideration not to do major installs during rush hour periods.
All of the routes must be engineered, ducting needs to be installed, pole attachment agreements with BGE or Verizon signed if the network is above ground, and the fiber optic cable installed, according to ICBN officials. It's a laborious exercise, Levy said, because the utilities do not have to give their approval for pole attachments.
And if they don’t, or if the terms offered are not acceptable to ICBN, the project can go past the poles using underground boring, according to ICBN officials.
ICBN is receiving a substantial portion of the $115 million that the state of Maryland is receiving as part of funds provided by the federal government resulting from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to improve access to broadband, including in public institutions such as libraries or schools which are known as “anchor institutions.”
ICBN must complete its entire route by the summer of 2013. The federal government, through the U.S. Department of Commerce, is legally obligated to end funds by Sept. 30, 2013 and some federal officials have stated that they want final invoices to be submitted several months prior to that.
County Executive Ken Ulman, Levy and their team pushed hard for the federal funds that come from ARRA; Ulman has said he wants Howard County to be Silicon County.
The jurisdictions benefiting from ICBN now understand the value of the optical fiber cable going into the ground, says Joseph Crossney, an Ellicott City resident who is ICBN's Procurement & Logistics manager, and who operates the warehouse in Elkridge.
In a metropolitan area such as Baltimore, carriers can charge thousands of dollars for the use of one fiber over one route mile. A typical cable going into ICBN has 216 fibers in it. Not all of the fibers will be used directly for ICBN so there is enormous potential value in selling off extra, unused fibers, which in the industry are known as “dark fibers.”
Of the 715 anchor institutions to be connected by ICBN throughout the 10 jurisdictions that it covers, 24 are in Ellicott City: Miller Branch Library, Ellicott City Radio Facility (District Court), Bethany Fire station, Ellicott City Volunter Fire Station, Applications Research Lab, Bellows Spring Elementary School, Bonnie Branch Middle School, Burleigh Manor Middle School, Dunloggin Middle School, Ellicott Mills Middle School, Folly Quarter Middle School, Hollifield Station Elementary School, Homewood, Ilchester Elementary School, Manor Woods Elementary School, Mount Hebron High School, Northfield Elementary School, Patapsco Middle School, Ridge Road Facility, St. John's Lane Elementary School, Triadelphia Ridge Elementary School, Veterans Elementary School, Waverly Elementary School and Worthington Elementary School.