Michigan Public Entities Partner on Fiber Network

Four local agencies in Ottawa County are permanently pooling their fiber resources, allowing for faster Internet speeds and more reliable backups.

by Jake Allen, Holland Sentinel / May 17, 2018
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(TNS) — Four public entities have come together to collaborate on and share fiber internet resources throughout Ottawa County, Mich.

In late April, the Holland Board of Public Works, Ottawa Intermediate School District, Ottawa County and Grand Haven Public Schools agreed to an intergovernmental agreement to form the Fiber Optimized Government - Network.

Although the entities have been sharing internet resources for about three years, the agreement ensures cooperation will continue, said David Hulst, director of innovation and technology for Ottawa County.

"We figured we could connect our fiber networks together and provide that base network around the county to help support other entities as opportunities presented themselves," Hulst said.

Ottawa County servers already provide hosting services to Ferrysburg, Spring Lake Township, Spring Lake Village and Park Township.

"Some of these entities are small and are in a position where they needed to go out and replace servers," Hulst said. "They weren't sure if they were set up optimally and were concerned about servers crashes because they have very little backup services available to them."

Now these entities utilize Ottawa County servers, which has allowed for faster internet speeds in some cases and more reliable data backup services.

In addition, Ottawa County uses charter services from the Ottawa Intermediate School District for a portion of its internet connection.

To join the Fiber Optimized Government - Network as a primary member, entities must contribute some sort of capital asset, Hulst said.

The idea to create the government network was formed as entities around Ottawa County started to collaborate on efforts, such as the Ottawa County Telephony Collaborative, to share resources and knowledge, eliminate redundancy and reduce cost of technology, Hulst said.

Any of the four primary members of the government network have the ability to extend their networks and provide internet services to smaller entities.

Ottawa County charges the entities it serves an annual fee of $6,000 for network access and internet services.

"We are trying to ensure we are delivering government services in an effective matter," Hulst said. "If the county has a way to support entities in a way that is reliable then the entity shouldn't have to spend more than necessary."

©2018 Holland Sentinel, Mich. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.