Transcript: Community Broadband Bits Episode 43

Thanks to Jeff Hoel for providing the transcript for the episode 43 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast with Gary Davis on benefits of county-owned fiber, from Carroll County, Maryland. Listen to this episode here.

 

00:13:

Lisa Gonzalez:  Welcome to the Community Broadband Bits Podcast, a production of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.  This is Lisa Gonzalez.

Today, Christopher Mitchell looks into the Carroll County Public Network in Maryland.  The fiber network began in 2002 as a way to improve connectivity for students and staff at the public schools.  Christopher talks with Gary Davis.  Gary's the Chief Information Officer at the Carroll County Public Schools.  And he's also Chairman of the Carroll County Public Network.  Gary describes the history of this joint effort, and shares some interesting info on how the school district uses the network to bring education to a whole other level in Carroll County.  Chris and Gary also delve into the significant savings from the network.

Here are Chris and Gary.

00:56:

Chris Mitchell:  Thank you for tuning in for another episode of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast.  Today, I'm talking with Gary Davis, the Chief Information Officer at the Carroll County Public Schools and the Chairman of the Carroll County Public Network.  Thank you for joining me.

01:11:

Gary Davis:  Thank you for having me.

01:14:

Chris:  Carroll County, Maryland -- as opposed to one of the many other Carroll Counties we have across the United States.  I just realized, actually, that I had mixed it up with one in Virginia, in a post I wrote two years ago.

01:25:

Gary:  Well, the one we always get confused with is Carroll County, Georgia.  We'll have people all the time call up and say, why are schools closed today?  And we're, like, yeah, that's Carroll County, Georgia.  [laugh]  They got to the wrong website.

01:36:

Chris:  Right.  So maybe you could start by telling us where Carroll County is in Maryland, and give us a sense of how you got interested in building a network.

01:44:

Gary:  OK.  Carroll County, Maryland, is a community of about 160-some thousand, I think.  It's about a 450 square mile county, in central Maryland.  So, if you can kind of picture Maryland, we're right in the center, above Washington, DC.  And to our east and a little bit southeast is Baltimore.  North is Gettysburg first, and then Harrisburg.  And to the west is Frederick.  So, we're kind of like right in the middle of a lot of activity.  And to our southeast is the Baltimore-Washington corridor.  And then to the southwest is the 270 -- Interstate Route 270 corridor, where there's a lot of business and industry and government-type contractors and things like that.  So, that's where we're located.

And the interesting thing about Carroll County is that it's a great place to live.  People love living here.  But the downfall of that I that we tend to be a bedroom community for all of these other places that I just mentioned.  Which can make it very challenging for -- um, you know, from a tax base perspective.  There's no real industrial tax base to help support infrastructure.  So, you're basically relying on the people who live here.  But then they're commuting every day, and taking their tax dollars out of the county.  Interestingly, Carroll County Public Schools is the biggest employer in Carroll County, with a total of approximately -- I'm going to say 3,500 employees, when you go across the board.

So, that's one of the challenges.  And when I came to Carroll County Public Schools, in January of 2002, I had been a -- pretty much a lifelong resident of Carroll County, but worked out of one of these areas outside.  I was one of those bedroom people.  And I had an opportunity to work for Carroll County Public Schools.  And it was, you know, something that I kind of kicked around.  And then I decided it would be challenging and interesting to do.  And the first thing I realized when I came to Carroll County Public Schools is that so many things in education -- so many opportunities that technology could enable -- and really create cost savings, and allow us to do things that we, you know, are constantly challenged with.  And I can give details on that later.  But the thing that I realized immediately is that, you know, our wide area network is not going to -- is not going to work.

04:13:

Chris:  When you say wide area network, for someone who's not really steeped in networking, what do you mean by that?

04:18:

Gary:  In Maryland, there's 24 jurisdictions -- 23 counties and the city of Baltimore.  And each jurisdiction is a local education agency.  It's the school district.  Whereas, in a lot of places in Pennsylvania and other parts of the country, the school districts are very small.  And that's something that's very important to remember.  So, the challenge that creates for us -- we have a total of 48 locations -- 43 schools -- they all have to be on the same network.  They all have to be connected, because of things like CIPA.  We have to do filtering -- the Children's Internet Protection Act -- we have to filter the Internet connection.  We can't have Internet connections at each individual school that are going out, because then we'd have to manage and put filters at each individual school.  So everything is centralized, and has to come back.  So, when I first got here, we basically had T-1 connections -- Verizon T-1 connections -- to all of our schools.  And it was tied to frame relay DS3 type of thing.  And then we shared with the public library an Internet connection, through Verizon also.

So, the wide area network is basically -- it was a collection of these circuits that we leased from -- you know, had a monthly associated with them -- that we leased from Verizon, to bring the net -- so that created our network.  So, all of our local area networks at each school were tied back together -- the wide area network -- back to the central location.

05:39:

Chris:  So, one of the ways I like to picture it for people who are trying to get their head wrapped around it is, rather than having every school location -- every facility -- connected to the Internet directly, they're connected to each other, and, in this case ...

05:53:

Gary:  Well, actually, they're not connected to each other.  They're connected back to their -- it's more, if you think of ...

05:57:

Chris:  More of a...

05:57:

Gary:  ... more of a bicycle tire -- yes, absolutely.  If we're in the central office, which happens to be in the center of the county -- and Westminster is the county seat -- we're that hub.  And then all the spokes are going out to the schools.  It's not really -- I mean, they're ultimately connected to each other, but it's more -- you know, realistically, it's a star connection.  Yeah.

06:15:

Chris:  OK.  So, in this case, you have a 45-megabit connection coming into the hub.  And that is distributed to each of the different sites.  And those sites were all -- this is all in the past ...

06:28:

Gary:  Right.

06:28:

Chris:  ... but those sites were all 1.5 megabit connections then.

06:31:

Gary:  Correct.

06:31:

Chris:  ... individually.  And so ...

06:32:

Gary:  Correct.

06:32:

Chris:  ... um -- And so, it's something to keep in mind, I think, that, when we talk with communities a lot of times, their first priority is typically trying to get a really big WAN -- a wide area network -- to make sure that they can have really robust communications between the facilities themselves.

06:48:

Gary:  Right.  Well, so what was happening for us, I mean, you know -- and there's other aspects of it, but -- the first impact that I saw immediately is that, you know, it was taking some people -- you know, some of the computers -- just to log in in the morning -- it was taking 20-30 minutes.  And the reason is, as technology has progressed, you have to do things like download virus definitions and updates.  And I think we're all familiar with Windows updates, and how many updates there are.  And there's always a new -- you know, new malware, or something that they have to patch something.  So what would happen, when people would log in in the morning, all these things would have to download from the central location, over the Internet, and it was just -- it was very hard to manage.  We had like servers at each local place that -- you know, but we couldn't do anything.  I mean, it was very limited.  Anything -- You know, there was more and more Internet-based type opportunities for educational software that we couldn't take advantage of, because we -- the speed -- it wasn't there.  We just didn't have the tunnel.

And the thing that I've always used as an example for people -- and I think this is one of the things that really helped me sell this, in a presentation, I -- on my PowerPoint presentations, I had a little tiny dot that you could hardly see.  And I said, that's like a straw.  And the whole screen was a big circle, and I said that's like a -- a storm drain.  And what we're trying to do is get the water that we would normally put through a storm drain -- we're trying to get through that little dot -- a straw.  And I said what we're trying to do is fill a swimming pool through a straw ...

08:20:

Chris:  Um hum.

08:20:

Gary:  ... and that's the problem that we have.  We just don't have enough bandwidth, and -- to do the things that we want to do.  So, I immediately -- I said, we've got to do something about this.  And what are the -- what are the options?  Well, the challenge was being a bedroom community and not having a lot of business and industry, the providers that we had at the time -- and it was Adelphia at the time -- later, Comcast bought them out, but Adelphia was the cable provider, and Verizon was the primary provider for telecommunications.  They don't have the infrastructure in this county.  They -- you know, it's not in their business model.  And this is the thing it's important -- you know, it wasn't necessarily a criticism of the big guys.  But they -- you know, they're in business to make money, and there really wasn't an opportunity to make a lot of money.  Carroll County is a suburb of Baltimore, but it also has a lot of rural areas.  So there wasn't even a lot of potential for -- at the time, for residential use, where they could make their money back on a huge investment of infrastructure.  So, we just didn't have the opportunity.  We didn't -- you know, what else can we do?  And we had no third party.  We had no business that could help us out.

09:32:

Chris:  Right.  You said it's not a criticism.  It's really -- the word, I think, is recognition.  It's a -- Comcast and Verizon have obligations to their shareholders.  And they have to invest where they get the highest return.

09:43:

Gary:  Correct.

09:43:

Chris:  And in a place like Carroll County -- I mean, heck, Baltimore didn't even get FiOS.  So ...

09:48:

Gary:  Um hum.

09:48:

Chris:  ... it's hard to imagine that they would be prioritizing Carroll County.

09:53:

Gary:  It's not their model.  They're not a let's-build-it-and-they-will-come.  They don't need that.  They're looking for business opportunities that already exist, and then they're going to build it to, you know, make sure they get their money back.  So that was the challenge we had.

Also, at the time, so all our schools could be connected together on a telephone system, we had what's called a Centrex system, which was very expensive.  When you do the math of computing it out, we -- for each of the lines -- I mean, we had close to 900 -- maybe 1,000 -- lines total, when you include all of the schools and all the different lines that are needed for all the offices, and then the central office.  It was about a 900-1,000, I think, at its peak, Centrex system.  And when you compute everything out, it was, like, $55 per month per line.  So that was a very expensive proposition also.

So when we -- you know, when we first looked at what we could do, and looked at the opportunities for -- with Verizon, I mean, obviously, we could go to DS3 circuits to each school, but it was just completely cost-prohibitive.

10:53:

Chris:  And that would have been 45 Mbps -- for the people who ...

10:55:

Gary:  Yeah.

10:55:

Chris:  ... who are fortunate not to have their brains crammed full of that kind of thing ...

10:58:

Gary:  Right.  So, instead of a straw, we might have had, like, a quarter-inch pipe.  So, that -- it would be better.  But in the grand scheme of things, we knew that it would be another temporary solution.  And the problem with a temporary solution is, Verizon wanted a long-term commitment.  And we were unwilling to do that, because, you know -- forward thinking. It's like, you know, this isn't going to work, and what's the next thing?

So, this is all about the time where Verizon was coming out with their TLS service metro Ethernet kind of thing.  The problem with that, for them to offer that in the county -- they didn't -- in this county, they didn't -- again -- they didn't have the infrastructure to do that.  So, they put a proposal together for Carroll County.  And basically, when you get right down to it, Carroll -- the schools are spread out throughout the county.  So, by them proposing, for the school system, to go to this solution that they had, they were going to put the infrastructure throughout the county, and create other opportunities for themselves.  Unfortunately, it was going to be financed by Carroll County Public Schools, because they weren't going to build the infrastructure on their own.  They basically, you know, factored in --  I mean, it's not like they said, here, you pay for us building the infrastructure.  But, obviously, the costs that were associated -- they wanted a five-year commitment.  And the cost of doing these kind of circuits -- and, again, it was a leased circuit.  It's kind of like renting a house.  It can be good sometimes.  You know, you're paying -- we would be paying them a monthly fee to lease these circuits, but we would own nothing.  And in the grand scheme of things, the investment would have been close to $10 million.  And the whole school system budget is around $300 million.  My whole budget, in the Information Technology Department -- which is everything, including salaries of staff, and all the computers we buy -- was less than $5 million at the time.  We were spending around -- completely -- around -- I'm going to say in the neighborhood of $700,000 on telecommunications.  So, obviously, that was just not feasible.  We couldn't do it.

So, along that time, we had a relationship with Nortel Networks, primarily because all of our phone switches in the schools, we were using Norstar systems.  So we had mostly Nortel handsets and Nortel switches at all the schools.  So we had that relationship with Nortel.  And at the time, they were really building their networking part of their business.  So they offered to do a feasibility study, because they -- you know, I shared with our sales guy some of the challenges we were having.  So they did a feasibility study of doing a fiber-optic-type network that would be built for the county school system.

So, we did that.  And, it's -- you know, it was something that would seem very feasible.  And it really -- it just -- it was a financial problem -- you know, it's got to get funded.  But the challenge that we had is that Carroll County also tends to be a very conservative community.  And one of the biggest factors of the budget that the county has is funding the school system.  So, you know, to come and say -- come back and say -- we need all this money just for the school system -- people weren't going to be real fond of that.  I mean, there -- you know, people are proud of the school system, we're a very successful school system.  But it just wasn't really feasible.

At the same time, Dr. Robert Wack, who was on the Westminster City Council, and was on the Cable Commission, had been floating around some ideas that I found out about.  And I got together with Dr. Wack and, at that point, we -- you know, I had already developed a vision for Carroll County Public Schools, of this fiber optic network.  And we kind of had developed -- you know, having started in 2002 -- but had developed a whole technology plan.  We called it a technology evolution strategy.  It was kind of like a ten-year plan.  And it was mostly pie-in-the-sky, to be honest with you.  Or, at least, most people thought it was.  And I probably thought it was, too, to some degree.  But when I talked with Dr. Wack, we started talking about -- you know, we could get the other agencies involved.  We got to sell this as something much bigger than just Carroll County Public Schools.  We could get the Carroll County government.  We have eight municipalities -- independent municipalities -- in the county.  You know, they have city halls, the volunteer fire departments, emergency services, the Carroll County Community College, the Carroll County Public Library.  And, you know, it would be really cool if we built this network, and we built it way over capacity.  Then we could even lease out the fiber.

Now, this is back in the early 2000s.  It was a lot different landscape.  You didn't really talk about that, because there was a lot of pressure from Verizon.  And there was -- So, it was something that was really looked down upon.  And it was -- not as something that would -- like it is today, as something that's actually successful.  So, we were kind of -- always plan- -- had the idea of the economic development, but we really couldn't talk about it much.

So, to make a long story short, we floated the idea to some of the county -- some of the county officials.  And they really liked the idea of the economic development potential.  And the economic potential being, leasing the excess capacity, so we could attract business and industry here.  That was green light for us, to really start thinking about how we might be able to do this.  And, really, that economic development potential.  Because at the county level, they certainly understood what I talked about at the beginning of this conversation, is, that we had a challenge, of being a bedroom community, and not having a lot of business and industry to help support the tax base.  That was really how we sold the idea.

16:36:

Chris:  One of the -- some of the themes that I'd like to pull out -- one is, you know, that you have this network that's not meeting your needs, and was fairly expensive -- especially for not meeting you needs.  And, rather than just trying to figure out a way to just replace that, with another hub-and-spoke network that would just serve the schools, you know, you thought broader.  You were able to bring in others, and consider building a network that would have an infinite number of uses, ideally.  And I think that's really important to recognize that -- and especially in 2013, let alone 2003, but -- we really need to make sure we're not doing any of these, like, silo networks ...

17:15:

Gary:  Correct.

17:15:

Chris:  ... the idea of one network for one actor.

17:17:

Gary:  Exactly.  And it's all about economies of scale.  And that was the piece that we sold also.  So, what we were able to do is -- the Cable Commission actually was able to help fund it -- a second study.  Now, the first we called the Nortel audit.  The first thing.  That was specifically to -- for the school system.  But then the Cable Commission was able to fund an actual feasibility study that was performed by Columbia Telecommunications Corporation, which is a consulting company.  They came out and did a feasibility study of what it would take to build a fiber optic network.  A countywide fiber optic network.  And they put in a business model.  And it -- of course, it was all based on estimates at the time.  But they -- when they did this, they basically came up with a model of investing approximately $7.4 million, and having a return on investment, of just the way of doing business we're doing now -- OK? -- of 10 to 12 years.  So, in other words, in 10 to 12 years, the network, based on how these agencies were doing business now -- not doing any future -- additional functionality but just what we're doing now -- it would pay for itself in 10 to 12 years.  Obviously, it would also enable a lot of things.  So, there's all that opportunity value -- opportunity cost, opportunity value -- of things that we weren't capable of doing right now, and if we were to try and do right now, it would cost an exorbitant amount of money, to be able to, like, video teleconferencing at the schools, or whatever.  So, that was the key to it, for selling the idea.  We -- you know, we went everywhere, talked it up.  And we sold it.  And the county at that time funded it, through a capital project.

The first thing that happened, even before we had the feasibility study by the Columbia Telecommunications, we actually got together with the county government and the community college and the public library, and created what we call the Carroll County Public Network, of which I was elected as Chairman.  And I've been the Chairman ever since.  So, it's been about ten years.  But we created this Carroll County Public Network Consortium for the public aspect, you know, and that's all we talked about.  You know, again, not talking about the economic development, and leasing, and all that kind of stuff.  Fiber.  And it was these four organizations -- the IT departments.  And we created an MOU, which all of our organizations signed, and were going to get together for the purpose of expanding the use of technology and that -- for a fiber optic network in the county.  But we also had other cooperative effort.  And it truly is remarkable.  And what, I think, sets us apart, is, we've had these four IT departments, from these four organizations, and issued the RFP when we were building the network.  So, we are the organization that kind of ran the administration of building and creating the network.

But the thing that's interesting about it -- there's -- in some of the -- in some counties now, there's places where they're combining the IT departments -- where they're just making one IT department, with the schools, and the libraries, and the government.  And I think that's -- personally, I don't see how that works.  Because, you know, like I always joke with Mark Ripper, who is the CIO over at the county government.  You know, he doesn't want to be involved in my -- you know, my grades.  And I don't want to get involved in his tax -- you know -- database, and all that.  We each have our own areas of responsibility.  But the thing that we can do together, we work on together.  And so, we've had a number of initiatives, beyond the fiber optic network, where we're really trying to get the economies of scale by working together, sharing resources.  We're all, you know -- as most IT organizations are -- we're really under-resourced.  And so, by sharing -- knowledge-sharing -- that really was the first thing.  That's how this really came about.  Then we -- after we had the Carroll County Public Network was established, then we did the feasibility study.  And then we got it funded.  And then the rest, you know, we kind of took it from there.

The thing that's very interesting is that some of the savings that we've been able to create, we were able to -- you know, my vision immediately was -- voice-over-IP, get rid of Centrex.  And, so as we build out each location, we were putting them on the voice-over-IP network, dropping the Centrex.  Same with the Internet.  The only we're pay- -- the only thing we're leasing, with the libraries, are our Internet connection -- or, Internet service provider now, which is a 500-meg connection.  But everything else is our own network.  And that's the thing that's very important.  So, we're not paying a monthly fee for anything.  Except -- obviously, we had to pay for equipment and, you know, the sustainability of equipment.  Replacement, you know, and that kind of stuff.  So, there -- you know, there was cost.  It's not like you can ** free.  We had to make an investment.

22:07:

Chris:  And there's ongoing costs as well.

22:10:

Gary:  And it's ongoing, but it's a fraction of what it is when you're just paying -- when you're leasing.  You know, when you buy a house, you own it.  And when you spend money to improve it, hopefully -- you know, I don't know if it's true right now with the economy, but it's adding value to the house.  So, it's an investment.  Whereas, when you're renting, you're just paying the same amount, and it doesn't -- you know, when you leave, you don't own anything.  It's not yours.  So, ...

22:35:

Chris:  Yeah, I think it's almost like energy efficiency, in the sense that you've made an investment, and you're saving a lot as a result of that.  And it's going to take at most ten years, based on, as you said, your previous patterns.  And if you factor in your existing patterns, the cost of duplicating what you have now would be -- would just be, um, far beyond your means, I'm guessing, to ** ...

22:59:

Gary:  Oh, absolutely.  Absolutely.  I mean, if we were trying to do what we are able to do now, if we were trying to do that through leasing circuits through Verizon, it -- I mean, it would be laughable, what it would cost.  And, again, that's not a criticism of Verizon.  But that's just the reality of the situation for us in Carroll County.  So, by eliminating all those T-1 circuits, by eliminating the Centrex -- you know, we were saving in the neighborhood, now, of $600,000 to $700,000 a year.  And if you look at the -- what we had to reinvest, as an original, at the time, I would say it was about 40 percent of that savings.  So, we maybe had to invest, you know, in the neighborhood of $250,000 in equipment to create this network.  But that was initial investment, and the ongoing is much less than that.  I would say it's in the neighborhood of a 20 percent we're paying on an ongoing.  Because, you know, when we -- the initial investment was a capital investment in the equipment.  And, obviously, it lasts for a longer period of time.  So, if you look at it over time, and what we're paying for the maintenance, and some help with the company -- we had actually hired Skyline Network Engineering -- it was actually a local company -- that actually built the network and is now managing it for us.  So, we don't worry about, you know, when there's a car accident and somebody knocks a pole down.  They do all the service-level-type things ...

24:28:

Chris:  Um hum.

24:28:

Gary:  ... for repair.  But, the point is, you know, we're saving -- the school system -- this is just the school system -- about $600,000-$700,000 a year -- is what we've saved.  And there's lease costs.  Spent, initially, maybe $250,000ish, to get the equipment.  But the ongoing cost is maybe only about 20 percent of that -- of what we're saving.  What we did is, we took the savings and we reinvested it.  So, we invested it in things that made us more efficient -- or enabled us to additional things that we couldn't do before.  And that's the key to it.  Because, from an instructional point of view, that's what -- that was the ultimate goal.  When it all started, back in January 2002, when I got here, it was, like, how can we improve instruction.  And so, we've been able to invest that savings to create these opportunities.

For example, one of the biggest challenges that you have in a larger school district is, you have, like, maybe, advanced placement courses, or whatever, where, you know, there's not a huge level of interest.  And I'll give you an example.  Somebody wants to take a class in Russian.  And we have eight high schools.  In one high school, there's enough student interest to hire a teacher and offer that class.  But maybe one of the other high schools, in a more rural area, there might be one kid that's interested.  Well, you can't offer it at that school.  So that kid doesn't have that opportunity.  So, we started piloting the creation of distance learning within our County.  So it's an intra-county distance learning.  We also utilize out-of-county, you know, third service providers, for kids like -- Hermann Hospital -- kids who are home sick, or whatever.  So, we utilize a distance learning type of situation for those students.  But also just within the class.  And it's still being defined and vetted.  But we have that opportunity where -- you know, that didn't exist before.  A lot more with video streaming.  We -- another thing that we did -- that Comcast allowed us to do -- we actually are allowed to take eight of their channels -- educational channels -- and re-stream them back out.  So, we don't have to have TVs everywhere.  Any of these channels.  And we chose, like, the History Channel, and the Discovery Channel, and a new station -- you know, things like that.  But they -- we can stream this to the desktop.

We did a countywide surveillance system, which we wouldn't have had the ability to do.  Now, we have a countywide solution, that we're actually on the same system with the county government and the community college, where we are -- have the surveillance system that's, you know, web-based.  And there's different levels of authorization.

But the other thing that we've been able to do is authorization for local law enforcement.  And we're still in the process of defining all of that.  But, the idea being that, you know, if there were a situation in the school, law enforcement would have the capability of, you know, looking in on -- different camera views, and things like that.  So, they're really a big-picture thing, and integrating with the other agencies.

27:35:

Chris:  It's really impressive results.  And we haven't been able -- we're not going to be able to cover all of it, unfortunately, today.  I think one of the things that we've done today is to go more in-depth, and to focus on a few aspects.  A lot of the history, and you’re thinking behind it.  And I think that's really valuable for others, who are in a similar position.  And so, some of the -- the other details of the network people can find by checking out our site, muninetorks.org .  As we close out, I just really want to hit on, just once again, the fact that you are able to reinvest the savings.  I think it's really a key point that others need to take away.

28:12:

Gary:  Right.  I think the key points -- just to summarize, you know -- I think the cooperative effort, you know, and getting rid of the redundancy and the silos ---

Another important thing I want to touch on, really quickly, is that we created a backup data center for all of us.  When the Public Library moved their headquarters, they moved to a different location -- that is -- was within our county.  So it's not optimal for a redundant data center.  But was on a different power grid.  But we utilize them, as does the community college and the county government as their backup data center.  And then they utilize us as their backup data center.  So, instead of each one of us, individually, you know, going out and leasing a building, or coming in with an arrangement where we were paying for a backup data center, we're using each other.  So, that cooperative effort, you know, to be able to check you egos at the door and, you know, work together as a team, and look beyond your own little world that you're in charge of.  So, that's one key thing -- is, really thinking big, and being able to team together with people that --  you know, you don't have to agree on everything, but you see what you have in common.  That's the first thing.

The second thing is that reinvestment.  And utilizing the network.  And then, the savings that you create -- you know, when you come up with your business model, the first thing you have to attack is, well, how is it going to save you money?  Then, taking that money that you're saving and immediately reinvesting it.  Just don't put it on the side.  Reinvest it in the technology.  Because it's just going to keep multiplying.  It's like an exponent, you know.  A power of two.  Every time you multiply it, it keeps getting bigger, because of the things that you're able to do that you couldn't do.  And if you had to pay for it, there's just no way you could pay for it.

So, those are the two key factors, I think, in anybody undertaking something like this.  And understanding the business potential.  That this is not anti-business.  This is pro-business.  This is a good government.  This is government investing, creating an environment for business to flourish.  There's nothing to say that Verizon, or any small company in Carroll County can't utilize.  And this fiber -- that they weren't going to invest and buy -- but they can utilize it.  And then they can provide the last-mile service.  A lot of things -- it creates opportunity for business, not only the small guys, but even the big guys, if it's something they want to utilize.  So, it -- it really is a partnership.  It's a government-business partnership.  And it should not be viewed as an anti-business think, in any way, shape, or form.

30:35:

Chris:  Well, we look forward to seeing how it progresses.  And I get the sense that we could definitely come back and have yet another very in-depth discussion about some of the recent results of the network.  And I look forward to doing that.  I'm sure we'll check in with you as you progress.

30:50:

Gary:  Absolutely.

30:51:

Chris:  But thank you very much for taking the time.

30:54:

Gary:  Right.  Excellent.  Thank you.

30:56:

Chris:  Have a great day.

30:57:

Gary:  You too.

30:58:

Chris:  Bye.

31:00:

Lisa:  Thank you, Gary Davis, from Carroll County Public Schools and the Carroll County Public Network.  We recently ran a detailed post about the network, and you can check it out at muninetworks.org .  Just follow the "Carroll County" tag.  And that's spelled C-a-r-r-o-l-l.  Westminster, the county seat, is also working on its own network project.  We look forward to bringing you more information about all that's happening in Carroll County in Maryland.

We want to hear your questions and comments.  E-mail us at podcast@muninetworks.org .  You can follow us on Twitter, where our handle is @communitynets .  This show was released on April 23, 2013.  We want to thank Mount Carmel for their song, "Oh Louisa/Slow Blues."  It was licensed using Creative Commons.  Thanks for listening.

 

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