Westminster's Fiber Network Enables Makerspace

The high-speed, municipal fiber network in Westminster, Maryland, (pop. 18,000) is making possible another intriguing resource service for the community’s businesses and residents.

In May, Westminster officials and the city’s fiber network partner, Ting, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the coming this fall of the first Ting Makerspace, a service featuring 3-D scanning technology, including “an electronic router that can carve digital designs into physical objects and laser engraving," reports the Carroll County Times. 

Ting Makerspace And 3D Printing

The Times story notes:

The 3-D scanner “takes any object smaller than a sofa and records the shapes and contours using light patterns, digitizing it,” according to the news story. Then, the digital rendition can be printed on a mini 3-D printer, “which can scale down the scanned object or print original computer designs. The 3-D printer ejects layers of heated, rapidly cooling plastic to create plastic models of these designs.” The newspaper reported that the subscription fee for using the 3-D scanner will be $5 a day, $30 a month or $300 a year. 

The Makerspace will encourage development from local entrepreneurs who would not otherwise have access to affordable 3-D scanning technology.

Westminster Municipal Fiber Network 

Such an innovative community resource goes hand in hand with Westminster getting a high-speed Internet network. Westminster began building its municipal fiber network in October, 2014, and entered into a public-private partnership in February, 2015, with Ting. The city owns the fiber network and Ting leases fiber to bring Internet service of up to 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) to businesses and residents. Last September, we noted that Westminster’s partnership with Ting earned it honors from the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors as 2015 “Community Broadband Innovative Partnership of the Year.” 

Until the arrival of Westerminster’s municipal fiber network, the majority of people in the city had only access to a dial-up network or DSL service. With the new municipal network, residents and businesses can now enjoy access to fast, affordable, reliable Internet connectivity with average speeds that are up to 400 times faster than what was previously available, the newspaper added.

Westminster Showcases "MAGIC"

Since the advent of the Westminster Fiber Network, the city has been able to use its high-quality Internet connectivity in some unique ways. In April, we reported how the city’s network has helped serve a new collaborative initiative called “Tech Incubation,” which gives local students experience exploring their interests in technology. In May, we described how students working on the “MAGIC" initiative created a temporary wireless network for a second project -- the city’s annual Westminster Flower and Jazz Festival held during Mother's Day weekend.  

You can learn more about the project by listening to episode #100 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. Chris talked with Dr. Robert Wack, the man who spearheaded the plan in Westminster.