Cumberland Times-News

Local News

September 13, 2013

Bids sought for AllCoNet upgrade

CUMBERLAND — Bids are being accepted by Allegany County until Oct.1 for a $600,000 up-grade and replacement of the county’s wireless broadband system via microwave radio.

Commissioners approved soliciting the bids at a recent business meeting.

“The ... microwave link upgrade will include the replacement of Harris Stratex links that are no longer commercially available ... or near 100 percent utilization,” said Beth Thomas, the county’s coordinator of information technology, in a memo to commissioners. It’s been about 10 years since an upgrade of the microwave links.

“The project will increase core network capability ... improve the reliability of the network and maintain critical broadband infrastructure,” said Thomas. The changes will speed up data transmission.

“The AllCoNet Backbone Microwave Link upgrade will replace microwave radios at six core network towers, increasing capacity to 1,000Mbps (Gig-E) speeds and maintaining critical broadband infrastructure serving Allegany County and portions of Mineral County,” according to the specification for the bid.

The towers are located in Cumberland, Frostburg and Ridgeley, W.Va.

There are tight requirements on bidders for the project. “Bidders must have five years of experience and demonstrated a proven track record of success in deploying a large-scale wireless network. Experience deploying public safety and/or high availability networks preferred. Proof of Ceragon Certification as well as Commscope certification or recognized equivalency and insured tower climber(s) required. Provider must have ability to start project within 30 days of contract approval,” according to the specifications.

“AllCoNet provides high-speed broadband access to nonprofit, government and educational facilities as well as private business entities ranging from telecommuters and small businesses to health care and light manufacturers,” according to the project description provided by the county.

The AllCoNet Network provides broadband service to numerous public entities, including schools, 911 call centers and local first responders.

AllCoNet also serves more than 40 businesses and a large residential market. The microwave system covers far more territory and makes broadband services available to more people than fiber optic cables can, David Nedved, of the Department of Community and Economic Development, has said.

The county, board of education and the city of Cumberland will each contribute $100,000 to the upgrade, with a $300,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission completing the funding.

Allegany County, the Allegany County public schools, the Allegany County Library System and the city of Cumberland developed the system in 1996, in a partnership between the entities that pooled grant monies and donated resources totaling $4.3 million to form AllCoNet, or Allegany County Network, partnership.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com.

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