In 2012, the Medina County Fiber Network (MCFN) first began offering fiber optic connectivity to businesses and community anchor institutions in the county. Jump forward eight years later and the network is now proving the case that Ohioans also want fast, affordable, reliable connections in the small communities where national providers aren't willing to upgrade.
Meeting a Goal
When we spoke with CEO David Corrado from MCFN in December 2019 for episode 386 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast, we learned about the new partnership between MCFN, Lit Communities, and Peak Communications. CEO Brian Snider and Chief Marketing Officer Ben Lewis-Ramirez from Lit Communities also participated in the conversation and the three explained how the partners were employing a community based model to expand the open access fiber optic infrastructure with private capital.
The entity they created for the project is Medina Fiber and focuses on expanding the benefits of the network to residents in Medina County.
In a February 11th press release from MCFN, Corrado announced that the project has reached a key milestone. Monthly revenue from the network now equals the MCFN $100,000 monthly bond payment.
“This is a key metric that we’re pleased to reach as Medina County Fiber Network begins expanding our trusted network to homes throughout Medina County. It’s proof that the county’s investment in fiber infrastructure works well now, and positions our community for even more economic success and better quality-of-life.”
In December, the initial construction began to approximately 6,100 households in the Villages of Seville, Westfield Center, and Guilford Township at a cost of around $8 million. According to Corrado, demand in these areas "remains strong." Now that the community based open access model is proving to be effective to bring better connectivity to residents and that locals are showing they want to sign up for services, plans are in the works for the next phase of the build out.
To determine where to develop infrastructure, Corrado encourages residents in Medina County to express their interest at https://medina.litcommunities.net/residential/. Engineers will determine where to deploy next based on demand.
Partnering for Success
The MCFN has experience working with other partners, including FairlawnGig. FairlawnGig, the municipal network in Fairlawn, Ohio, has been leasing extra capacity from MCFN and is delivering service to an expanded service area. The partnership gives FairlawnGig the ability to now serve subscribers in an east-west direction to complement their north-south presence developed on their existing publicly onwed infrastructure.
As a result of the collaboration, Akron businesses such as the Bounce Innovation Hub, have been able to access connectivity previously unavailable.
Potential for More
The MCFN expansion project, funded with private capital, works with multiple providers that offer various services. At this early phase, iFiber is the sole Internet service provider, but the open access environment allows more companies to compete on the infrastructure. As we discussed during the podcast, Docity will provide a telehealth services option to local residents.
In places like Guilford Township, Westfield Center, and Seville, local residents need fast, affordable, reliable services and the benefits that accompany more optioins. Even if Interent access is considered "adequate" in some areas, businesses and residents who have the ability to choose something better, often do. From Crain's Celeveland Business:
"Current cable providers cannot provide the necessary Internet bandwidth, and the services they offer are very expensive," Seville mayor Carol Carter said in a statement. "We have too many students who must travel to a library just to complete their online homework. Our residents are screaming for more choices and the chance to change from the cable monopoly controlling our township today."
Listen to the interview with David Corrado from MCFN, and CEO Brian Snider and Chief Marketing Officer Ben Lewis-Ramirez from Lit Communities:
Image of Westfield Center by Inicuo [Public domain]