The city of Fairlawn, Ohio, has less than 8,000 residents, but daytime population swells to around 40,000 because the Akron suburb is a hotspot for commerce. When city leaders decided to develop the FairlawnGig broadband utility in 2015, they knew that it was necessary to retain businesses and they were right - the fiber optic infrastructure is spurring economic benefits. People who live in and around Fairlawn, however, are also reaping the rewards. In a video released by Corning about the city's investment, we learn more about both business and residential subscribers who make the most of the city's broadband utility.
Success in the Numbers
In addition to increased home resale values of 8.7 percent the first year and 8.2 percent in year two, 257 new jobs have come to the community within the FairlawnGig footprint. There are 15 new businesses in the community, in part because commercial subscribers can sign up for 10 gigabit per second connectivity. For Enterprise subscribers, 100 gigabit service is available. There are factors that contribute to the boon, of course, but before the municipal network utility, potential businesses cited Fairlawn's poor Internet access as a reason for locating elsewhere.
Subscribers in the community pay around 7.5 cents per Megabit per second (Mbps); in the past they paid around $4.23 per Mbps from the incumbent. Residential subscribers can sign up for service that they describe as "half the cost and twice the speed" and can get Internet access of up to a gig.
In this video, you'll see resident and City Council person Barb Potts describe how her children and grandchildren have tested the limits of the gigabit service, which comes through with flying colors.
Several residents that also run businesses in Fairlawn, praise the city's foresight in making the investment. They appreciate local leadership's efforts to improve economic opportunities and develop a utility that provides an affordable and reliable critical service such as Internet access. By implementing a project that brings a much-needed improvement to the region, city leaders have boosted their credibility along with local connectivity.
The owner of the Akron/Fairlawn Hilton describes how FairlawnGig transformed Internet access for hotel customers and the immediate improvement in their reputation. The Hilton was one of the first locations connected to the network back in 2016, in time for the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Gregg Zolton, from Crystal Clinic Orthopedic Center discusses how the increased capacity has improved the clinic's service and reduced their connectivity costs. According to a recent Broadband Communities article, Crystal Clinic plans to build a flagship facility in Fairlawn "like no other in Northeast Ohio." The innovative technology that the facility will use requires the type of connectivity only FairlawnGig can provide.
[Deputy Service Director Ernie] Staten points out that the hospital was offered free land to build the facility in Akron but chose instead to spend $4 million on land in Fairlawn so it could have access to the fiber network. He adds, “The headquarters and back office facility will have a direct fiber connection to the new hospital – this is important because of HIPAA issues.”
Beyond the City
Since deploying FairlawnGig in the city limits, the community has expanded the network footprint. In addition to building their own infrastructure outside of the city to accommodate more business and residential development, the service is working with partners. We described their collaboration with the Medina County Fiber Network (MCFN) in the summer of 2018. Next, FairlawnGig will also be working with nearby Tallmadge, Ohio, to operate the latter's fiber optic network and provide Internet access in a public-public partnership.
Read more coverage on Fairlawn's project here.
Check out the Corning video to learn more about how FairlawnGig is impacting residents and businesses in the community: