Decatur partners with school district to complete fiber network projectSeated left to right: Mayor Pro Tem Tony Powers, Mayor Patti Garrett and City Manager Andrea Arnold. Photo by Cathi Harris
This story has been updated.
Decatur, GA — The city of Decatur and City Schools of Decatur partnered to replace the city’s 20-year-old underground fiber network. Decatur City Manager Andrea Arnold confirmed that the project was completed in June 2021.
The fiber network connects 14 city facilities and 12 CSD facilities.
“The current and future impacts of this project on the city are many and include: a much more redundant and secure network, substantially reduced risk of network outage, access to all current and future city facilities on one city-owned fiber network, and virtually unlimited, cost-effective expansion capability of the network to support the city’s future needs,” Arnold said.
“The network connects city and school facilities; it does not provide service directly to residents. Indirectly, residents that interact with any city technology such as email, online tax payments, online building permitting, etc. are able to engage because of the city’s network environment,” she added.
Construction on the project began in September 2019. The total budget for the project was $2.35 million, with CSD paying 28% for ownership of their portion of the new network, Arnold said.
“The construction approach for the entire 11.9 mile long underground fiber network was to use directional boring with plastic conduit encasing the fiber cable so as to minimize land disturbance and to avoid impact to trees, landscaping, utilities and storm drainage,” Arnold said. “The capacity of the fiber cable utilized was sized to support all known and expected networking requirements of the city well into the future.”
Decatur’s previous fiber network was installed in 2000 by MediaOne, which is now Comcast, as part of the city’s franchise agreement. Arnold said the city needed to add sites to the network and “the existing ‘hub and spoke’ network design needed to be replaced with a redundant/self-healing ring design, and we needed a network to support video, wifi and newer technologies not supported by the old network.”
Additionally, due to the expiration of the city’s 1999 franchise agreement with Comcast, they were going to begin charging the city for use of the system. The city anticipated this change and decided to build a network instead of pay a private provider each month.
“The replacement of that nearly 20-year-old hub and spoke design network was required in order to: 1) Enable greatly improved network speed and security, 2) Provide automatic redundant/self-healing ring capability to ensure constant availability of the network, 3) Cost-effectively facilitate maintenance of the network and future additions of new connections to and expansion of the network, 4) Establish the necessary infrastructure to support the city’s future video, Wi-Fi, and smart cities technology that was not available on the old network, and 5) Eliminate vendor controlled recurring charges for network connections to city facilities,” Arnold said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the number of CSD facilities connected to the network. The story has been updated with the correct information.