Hannibal, Mo., Partners with ISP to Boost Local Network

The city has reached an agreement with Bluebird Networks to extend its fiber-optic network to government buildings and businesses, with a substantial focus on improving 911 reliability.

by Trevor McDonald, Hannibal Courier-Post / December 14, 2018

(TNS) — Subterranean changes are coming to spur business growth and boost the speed and reliability of city and county services. Bluebird Networks is partnering with the City of Hannibal, Mo., to expand their fiber-optic network to reach more area businesses, government agencies and emergency providers.

Many of Hannibal's Board of Public Works locations and the area's 911 services are among the entities connected through fiber, allowing more consistent and faster communications than other technologies by using beams of light to send and receive data. Additionally, the city is partnering with Bluebird Network for future expansions to businesses, communications providers and other area government locations, said Bluebird Network President and CEO Michael Morey.

With expansion efforts on the horizon, the technology is poised to encourage a more competitive market to potentially lower prices on the consumer side and provide more reliability for vital services such as communications and emergency response.

Mike Hall, Marion-Lewis County 911 executive director, said that his department has been a Bluebird customer for about two years now. In addition to high-speed service and reliability that is "virtually 100 percent," Hall said the system includes redundant fiber connections to St. Louis and Kansas City, so there is a connection if one network goes down.

"It's been extremely robust and dependable, and that's what we need," he said. "It's a really high-quality, enterprise-grade connection that we're very dependent on nowadays — and almost everything now is driven over IP."

Hall described Bluebird fiber technology as a "really solid solution," and he supported the City's decision to expand its fiber network.

Morey said that Bluebird Network's services are used by organizations including wireless companies, banks, health care providers and medium-to-larger businesses. "Mid-mile" fiber runs connect communities and allow for reliable wireless phone services between many area cell towers and their switching locations. In the local area, expanding the network with more "last-mile" connections to individual schools, businesses and other area agencies will help boost the local economy. Morey said that consumer prices generally drop in a more competitive market while businesses grow in the area.

"Broadband is a key factor when it comes to economic growth in the coming years. Hannibal is getting a head start by working with us to set up a fast and efficient broadband infrastructure for the city," he said.

Heath Hall, general manager for the Hannibal Board of Public Works (HBPW), said that Bluebird has been knowledgeable and helpful throughout the expansion and installation process, pointing out the reliability and speed that Mike Hall experiences at Marion-Lewis County 911. He said that HBPW and fellow city officials will be relying on Bluebird's expertise during future expansion efforts which will include the Hannibal Police Department and area businesses.

"The relationship Hannibal Board of Public Works (HBPW) has built with Bluebird Network continues to be very positive for the organization as we continue to expand the City operated fiber network," he said. "From the very beginning of the planning stages to the installation of fiber to connect critical field assets, the entire Bluebird Network team has been a pleasure to work with."

Over the next several years, Bluebird officials plan to perform "densification" — building up the fiber network deeper and closer to local businesses, Morey said.

"Our goal is to get our fiber close enough to the majority of the businesses in Hannibal, so we can provide them with higher bandwidth at lower cost," he said. "And we are proceeding with that and building a little bit every month, a little bit every year, until we're to the point where we feel like we've completely covered the major business communities within Hannibal."

©2018 Hannibal Courier-Post, Mo. Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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