Maryland Broadband Network Promises Major Rewards

KCI Designs, Executes Historic 1,200-Mile Design, Construction Project
By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | January 2013, Vol. 68, No. 1

As the new year began, construction was nearing completion for 800 miles of fiber optic cable that will comprise the central segment of the state of Maryland’s One Maryland Broadband Network (OMBN) project. Ultimately, this project will create a comprehensive high-speed broadband fiber-optic network to connect more than 1,000 institutional and community facilities throughout the state.

Known as the Inter-County Broadband Network (ICBN), the project owner is seven central Maryland counties and the cities of Baltimore and Annapolis. Each jurisdiction owns its portion of the network.

Funding includes a $115 million grant under the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Recovery Act’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program to the Maryland Department of Information Technology with Howard County as a key partner and sub recipient of the grant, responsible for managing the ICBN project.

The ICBN fiber segment will comprise about 66 percent of the 1,200 miles of cable projected for the One Maryland Broadband Network. Under contracts with the consortium, KCI Communications Infrastructure and other consultants, are designing, constructing and will implement services for the ICBN project.

“Planning is complete and the majority of the aerial and underground structure has been constructed,” said KCI Senior Vice President Joe Siemek, P.E. “We are in the process of placing cabling and splicing. Most of the current work in progress is connecting the laterals from the anchor sites to the fiber backbone. The deadline for completing construction is August 2013, but we are well ahead of schedule and expect to be finished during the first quarter of the year.”

Each jurisdiction has future plans to build upon the backbone and distribution cabling to connect additional sites. Ultimately the project will create a web of interconnected fiber linking public buildings, government offices, schools and other facilities.

The ICBN project specifies a minimum 216-strand backbone consisting of 18 ribbons, each containing 12 color-coded strands of glass. A minimum of 24 strands are reserved for economic development, research and development and last-mile build-out through open-access, private-sector dark fiber leasing. The rest are allotted for local government use.

Change of plans
Construction started in September 2011. Siemek said initial planning called for 30 percent of the outside plant to be aerial and 70 percent underground.