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Clackamas Broadband Express (CBX)

Fiber optics

Clackamas Broadband Express (CBX) has been a major investment and very successful project for Clackamas County Technology Services and our partners over the last 4 years. This has been a technical, political, financial and even legal challenge as this project has broken down old barriers and pushed new concepts and policies. The challenges have continued as CBX completes the grant phase of the project and evolves into a valuable, sustainable service to the County and region.

Goals

CBX had 4 primary ongoing goals for this project:

  • Provide low cost, high speed broadband connectivity to public agencies such as schools, law enforcement, fire & safety, governmental agencies, libraries, utilities, etc.
  • Provide efficient communication infrastructure and save valuable tax dollars.
  • Provide dark fiber backbone infrastructure, especially in previously underserved regions, for utilization by telecommunication providers to expand and enhance services throughout Clackamas County increasing services and reducing costs to providers.
  • Provide dark fiber infrastructure in previously difficult or unavailable areas allowing new data-centric industries to take advantage of the fiber and stimulate economic development.
  • To become an self-sufficient and continually growing fiber utility for the County.

History

  • In 2000, Clackamas County commissioned a Communications Needs Assessment and Feasibility Study as a means to better understand the County’s communications status and requirements. The study revealed that the County was in need of access to affordable, high-speed communications infrastructure and services. Several unique challenges were identified that would have to be resolved:
    • The vast size of the County (roughly 1,900 square miles)
    • The high percentage of rural areas (roughly 90% or 1,650 square miles)
    • Seventeen incorporated cities over a large area, many with less than 5,000 citizens
    • Over 20 individual communications companies, many with small service territories
    • No cohesive plan to provide modern, state-of-the-art communications to the County as a whole
  • In 2009, Clackamas County applied for a American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) grant under the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
  • In 2010, Clackamas County was awarded a BTOP grant for $7.8 million — the largest such recipient in Oregon — to develop the Clackamas Broadband Express (CBX). In addition, the County pledged an additional $3.3 million in resources for a total project of $11.1 million.
  • Construction occurred between March 2011 and October 2013 for the infrastructure planned in the BTOP Grant. Additional construction and expansion also occurred as additional funding and partners became available to increase the scope of the initial project.
  • Since October 2013 the CBX project has successfully converted to a self-sustaining utility service for the County with revenue based on affordable rates for public and private agencies utilizing the fiber infrastructure. CBX is proud of the fact the project was able to come in on budget and exceed the original scope with more customers and infrastructure than planned. This funding provides not only for ongoing program expenses, but contingency for repairs and capital for ongoing expansion to new agencies, underserved regions and new service opportunities.

Current Status
This project has been a major success, both for the County and the customers (public and private) that are now able to fully utilize it. And more customers are coming on board monthly. The specifics of the project at this point include:

CBX Project Metrics and Milestones

CBX map
click for interactive map
Route Miles 193
Fiber Miles 34,045
Public Agency Connections 163
Telecommunication Partners 8
Fiber Rings
(allowing redundancy)
1 – Urban
1 - Rural
Major Spurs Mt. Hood
Wilsonville (south)
Canby

The Future

With the successful completion of the grant phase of construction, CBX now has the ongoing challenge of developing self-sufficient operation while maintaining a non-profit model dedicated to the original four goals of the project:

  • While the initial goal of establishing a large public network has been accomplished, proving significant savings and opportunities to the whole County, there are still many sites and agencies desiring to be connected. CBX will continue to find ways to expand the public network and increase its services.
  • With several regional telecommunication providers now utilizing CBX to expand their services, the goal of providing a backbone for new services is developing. CBX is currently in negotiations with several additional providers to build upon this success and develop new opportunities including new construction.
  • One of the greatest challenges for CBX is in the partnering with other agencies and businesses in the development of economic opportunities for Clackamas County. CBX (in concert with other agencies) is already coordinating with potential new businesses and industries to locate to Clackamas County and utilize CBX as a crucial service related to their business. CBX is developing partnerships with local telecommunications providers to design, construct and market broadband solutions for data-centric industries. This is new territory for Clackamas County as such partnerships develop to expand economic opportunities on multiple levels and services.
  • CBX has become-self sufficient, relying totally on generated revenue from the lease of fiber, both by connection and in complete fiber strands. CBX maintains an annual review of the program costs, construction opportunities and contingency requirements to constantly tune the rates to maintain CBX funding while providing the most cost effective rates possible. The challenge is to maintain construction funding for expanding services while balancing the need to hold rates at a minimum.

Benefits & Services

CBX has been a success for the County, our partners and numerous agencies — and we will continue to build on this success, especially as we create new ways to utilize CBX and our partnerships. Some of the more outstanding benefits include:

Design:

  • Large fiber count to allow for long term growth and expanded utilization
  • 2 rings allowing redundant pathways for reliability
  • Large spur to Mt. Hood area providing a much needed backbone in an underserved region
  • Large spur south to Wilsonville allowing a future point of connection to other regional fiber networks
  • Numerous smaller spurs allowing expansion into required areas and site additions
  • 24/7/365 monitoring and call center

Public Agency:  (just a few examples of a rapidly growing list of benefits CBX is making available)

  • Major benefit to many public agencies that previously had no high speed broadband options
  • School districts are now directly connected to their schools, as well as to the Educational School District allowing access to central records, Internet services, etc. (a few additional benefits include)
    • Virtual classrooms at sites utilizing live / on demand video classrooms
    • Connected labs and school libraries reducing duplicated resources
    • Video conferencing reducing travel requirements
    • New virtual / distance classroom capabilities to sites previously unavailable
    • Onsite job training via the local community college
    • New shared service and application opportunities which also reduce costs
    • School security and monitoring
  • Law Enforcement and Public Safety now directly connected to each other and Internet allowing faster communications, access to central records, etc. (a few additional benefits include)
    • Enhanced, more reliable communications with new service opportunities such as video sharing
    • Integrated security and monitoring, central alarm and CCTV services
    • New video recording, sharing, storing opportunities
    • Access to traffic cameras and other security systems across the County
    • Enhanced EOC support and communications, new GIS services for dispatching
    • New disaster recovery capabilities, backup site connectivity, shared emergency services, etc.
    • Video Conferencing reducing travel costs (roll calls, meetings, training, etc.)
  • New County-wide (and soon beyond) Health Information Network
    • Several hospitals and clinics now interconnected, more in progress
    • Real time sharing  / access of critical medical data — all secure on private network
    • Developing real time video diagnosis
    • Connection of local clinics, school clinics, non-profits, etc. to each other and other resources
    • Expanded remote, onsite opportunities to support clients with limited transportation options
  • Significant savings of tax dollars to many agencies (a few examples include)
    • $27,000/yr to Clackamas County Sewer District
    • $253,000/yr to local school districts – and increasing (estimated to be over $5 million in 20 years)
    • $87,000/yr to Clackamas County
  • Many more benefits such as traffic monitoring / routing, river monitoring, search and rescu,e etc.

Provider Partnerships / Economic Development:

  • New backbone routes previously unavailable allowing new, reliable and enhanced services
  • New alternative routes allowing redundant connections for increased service reliability
  • Previously unavailable regions (due to costs) now open to services
  • New inter-company and CBX-company partnerships to market services
  • Partnerships to develop new industries (such as video editing, application hosting, storage hosting, training, film & media etc) in locations previously unsuited for such businesses but now have dedicated dark fiber opportunities.

Additional Information

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