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ultraMontgomery is a keystone of County Executive Ike Leggett’s Six-Point Economic Plan.  In introducing this plan in his Inaugural Address on December 1, 2014, Mr. Leggett said, “we live at a time when Internet connectivity and network infrastructure is just as fundamental to our economic future as are transportation systems, which requires us to have robust fiber networks to connect people with opportunities, and move our economy at the speed of our ideas.  I am, therefore, launching ultraMontgomery, a high-speed fiber network that will connect our business, academic and federal institutions along major corridors and transit-oriented smart-growth communities.”

  • Quote from Barack ObamaTo enhance our broadband connectivity, we are considering a range of options, including requirements to improve building access for broadband networks and policies to add conduit for fiber installation in road and transit projects.
  • To enhance our economic development, we are working to identify and nurture forward-looking businesses and have opened the County’s Thingstitute, a new Internet of Things lab, to encourage and demonstrate innovation. 
  • By lowering infrastructure deployment costs and creating public-private partnerships, ultraMontgomery will expand knowledge-based jobs and businesses within the County. 
  • We want to continue to connect Montgomery County to other gigabit economies to share in a national gigabit community of ideas and innovation.

Councilmember Hans Riemer, Lead for Digital Government, supports ultraMontgomery and believes that “to drive the next generation of economic success and improvements in our quality of life, Montgomery County should create ultra high-speed (100+ gigabits per second), ultra reliable, and ultra secure networks that connect our own centers of research and economic activity – our innovation districts – with similar centers around the region and globe.” 

Montgomery County is pleased to offer the following information about ultraMontgomery:

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is ultraMontgomery?

ultraMontgomery is a technology-based, multi-year, economic development initiative.  Its objective is to grow knowledge-based jobs by making gigabit broadband more affordable and widely available to public, private, education and government institutions in major corridors and transit-oriented smart growth communities within the County.  ultraMontgomery will seek to:

  • Leverage spare capacity within the County’s extensive fiber network, FiberNet, to facilitate transport of broadband services across the County and throughout the region.  As part of this initiative, the County will explore opportunities to provide open access to fiber, trade fiber Community Based Broadband Solutionscapacity for services or other benefits from state and local entities and public and private network services providers, and offer fiber for “dark” or “lit” transport service on a case-by-case basis depending on specific factors. 
  • Lower the cost of providing services to tax-supported and higher education institutions ( e.g., County government, public schools, and higher education and federal institutions).  The initiative does not initially contemplate offering services directly to businesses or individuals; rather, the County contemplates using its infrastructure to facilitate commercial carriers’ service offerings to these sectors. 
  • Make WiFi services more affordable and widely available to public, private, education and government institutions.  Better WiFi will further enhance the use of government facilities, such as at public schools, community college campuses, public libraries, and recreation and community centers.
  • Identify and nurture forward-looking businesses, such as at the County’s Thingstitute laboratory and throughout the County’s Business Innovation Network.  Ultra-high speed broadband will further enhance County facilities as places of technology and entrepreneurial innovation, and we will continue to connect Montgomery County to other gigabit economies to share in a national gigabit community of ideas and innovation.
  • Lower the costs to deploy gigabit broadband to new commercial buildings by constructing conduit in new road and transit projects, and creating incentives or requirements to add building-to-street conduit for commercial use.  Commercial broadband service providers can use this conduit to lower the construction and installation costs to bring gigabit broadband fiber to buildings.   

How Will ultraMontgomery Benefit Montgomery County’s Economic Climate

  • Secure and reliable ultra broadband networks and data centers are vital to attract and grow knowledge-based and managed services businesses and jobs.
  • Innovation requires a focus not just on the Internet of today, but also the Internet of tomorrow.  Not just 100 100 Knowledge-Based jobsmegabit broadband for today, but 100 gigabit broadband for the more broadband-dependent applications of tomorrow.  Statics are not widely available because gigabit, much less 100 gigabit broadband, is not widely available at affordable prices.  However, the research about the impact of broadband on economic development is beginning to emerge:
  • For example, locally, in the life sciences sector, Montgomery County’s Department of Economic Development (DED) estimates that for every 100 jobs created, an additional $30 million dollars is generated into our local economy. 
  • A recent White House broadband paper cited studies stating that broadband Internet accounted for $28 billion in U.S. Gross Domestic Product in 2006 and the internet applications economy grew from nothing in 2007 to $20 billion in revenue in 2011.
  • After building gigabit broadband, Chattanooga, TN (Pop. 171,000) drew $50 million in investable capital.
  • The Brookings Institute reports that Advanced Industries, the nation’s “tech” sector, created almost 1 million jobs, or 18 percent of the nation’s total job growth, between 2010 and 2013.
  • Strategic Networks Group collected research from 10 states and reported that 31 percent of new jobs can be “directly attributed to broadband and the use of esolutions.”

What Are the ultraMontgomery Objectives?

  • Inspire a n ultraMontgomery 100 Gigabit Community.  The County will work with institutions of higher learning, federal agencies and campuses, and Internet futurists, to promote Montgomery County as a test bed to develop and explore next generation Internet applications and innovations.  As part of this effort, the County would like to determine how expanded access to ultra high-speed broadband could help life sciences, biotech, medical device, cybersecurity, managed services, and other IT companies relocate and grow within Montgomery County.
  • Expand Public-Private Partnerships to Create More Last Mile Fiber and Conduit Connections to Meet-Me-Points.  The County will work with developers and fiber and communications system providers to improve competitive access to commercial building-to-street conduits for fiber, and to construct conduit fiber matrices from buildings to data centers and other meet-me-points in economic development areas.  The goal is to reduce infrastructure deployment costs, increase competition, and leverage commercial assets.  Broadband service or facilities providers would only need to extend their systems to the data center or meet-me-point, and then would be able to use shared-cost infrastructure to reach business and institutions, thus lowering overall ultra high-speed deployment construction costs.  White Oak Science Gateway - Fiber ConduitBusinesses would not have to pay for construction of separate connections to a building to purchase service from a different service provider and businesses could be able to obtain more affordable access to data centers and broadband networks that extend nationally or internationally. 
  • Promote Deployment of Gigabit Networks By Leveraging County Assets & Economic Development Initiatives.  The County will help commercial and non-profit educational and research networks reach more locations within the County and investigate the feasibility of leveraging FiberNet (the County’s communications network) to make a gigabit fiber network available in selected test beds. To make construction more cost efficient, the County will review the feasibility of including broadband fiber and conduit capacity in planned transportation road and mass transit projects, such as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), the Purple Line and the Corridor Cities Transitway (CCT), and in economic growth areas, such as the Great Seneca Science Corridor and White Oak Science Gateway.  In addition, the County will determine how better high-speed broadband to County libraries and business incubator centers could help grow start-ups, small businesses and non-profits.    
  • Create a Broadband Ready Certification Program.  Part of the ultraMontgomery effort would include creating a recommendation to provide incentives and to reduce barriers for buildings to be redeveloped or built with broadband infrastructure that supports bringing ultra high-speed broadband to offices.  The County would work to promote “broadband ready” certification for buildings, similar to LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification, and mapping of commercial fiber and data center assets, to enable potential tenants to select buildings that will enable their broadband needs to be met.     
  • Expand Public Wi-Fi.  Adding or upgrading wireless access point (AP) equipment at FiberNet locations will enable free public Wi-Fi to be available at public facilities.  In outdoor public square and economic development areas, by installing wireless APs on poles and structures suited for mounting wireless APs, FiberNet can also be leveraged to provide free outdoor WiFi in selected public areas. 

Has the ultraMontgomery Program Started and What is the Timeline?

ultraMontgomery is envisioned to be a multi-year, multi-phase, planning, construction and community engagement effort to assess need and viability, develop a business plan to make incremental investments, and leverage multi-year transit and economic development projects.
  • Broadband Report.  The County has retained the services of a contractor to produce a Broadband Report by the Spring of 2015.  The Broadband Report is expected to include the following:
    • Broadband Availability.  Survey of currently available commercial broadband service offerings and pricing models in Montgomery County, as well as the going rates for broadband fiber and conduit leasing.
    • Gauge Interest in ultraMontgomery Initiatives.  Industry and institutional interest in ultra high-speed network partnerships, as well as requirements that broadband service and facilities providers, developers, building owners, and tenants, need to make use of last mile conduit and fiber infrastructure.   
    • Case Studies.  Review of the types of businesses that have been attracted to, or been able to expand, in other regions because of the deployment of high-speed broadband networks in those regions. 
  • Broadband Summit.  The County Executive and Councilmember Riemer will host a Broadband Summit in 2015 to discuss ultraMontgomery recommendations and next generation Internet innovations that would be possible if 100 gigabit or faster ultra high-speed broadband were more widely available. 

The County has also started to plan a multi-sector engagement as described herein. 

How Will the Community be Engaged in ultraMontgomery?

To assist in developing information for the Broadband Report, the Department of Technology Services (DTS) and DED propose to host individual meetings and small group roundtables to develop information about the interest in ultra high-speed broadband and the requirements of local and regional businesses, developers, federal and academic institutions, and broadband fiber and service providers.  These findings will be discussed in a larger public Broadband Summit.

The County will receive guidance from the County Executive’s Business Advisory Group and similar community business and technology organizations.  In addition, the ultraMontgomery program is organizing outreach to the following economic sectors:

  • Commercial Building Developers, Owners and Managers
  • Ultra Montgomery Council Briefing Fiber Network Providers and Colocation and Data Center Operators
  • Healthcare and Education
  • Biotech and Life Sciences Businesses
  • Cybersecurity, Managed Services and Other IT Businesses
  • Next Generation Internet-Based Services and Applications Developers
  • Federal Government Agencies and Laboratories
  • Libraries, Business Incubators, and Community Anchor Institutions

Who is Responsible for Implementing ultraMontgomery?

The County Executive has designated key departments to form an ultraMontgomery Program Team.   DTS and DED will lead the County Executive’s ultraMontgomery program and will work closely with other Departments including the Department of Permitting Services (DPS), the Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL), and the Department of General Services (DGS) to plan the uses and phasing of the ultraMontgomery program within Montgomery County.

How Will ultraMontgomery be Funded?

The County Executive has indicated an intent to tie the development of the infrastructure for high-speed broadband fiber and conduit to the development of transit infrastructure, and to partner with sector and master plan public and private development to accomplish the incremental rollout of network infrastructure. 
In the FY16 County Executive Recommended Budget, the County Executive has proposed:
  • Upgrading the County’s recently initiated Network Operations Center (NOC) to improve network functionality, monitoring and repair availability to approach commercial standards.  The upgrade is necessary to enable leasing of fiber capacity  ($729,000)
  • Reallocating FiberNet Capital Improvement Plan funding to support fiber system engineering design and construction ($429,000)
  • Expanding WiFi in certain community recreation centers ($97,000)
  • Launch an ultraMontgomery Broadband SmartMap
  • Implement legislative and policy changes

Who are the ultraMontgomery Program Contacts?

Department of Technology Services
Sonny Segal
Director & Chief Information Officer

Mitsuko R. Herrera
ultraMontgomery Project Director

Department of Economic Development
Tina Benjamin
Chief, Special Projects Division
Phone: 240-777-2006

Office of the County Executive
Ramona Bell-Pearson
Assistant Chief Administrative Officer


Building-to-Street Conduit : Typically, buried plastic pipe that creates a pathway (or tube) for communications fiber (or other wiring) to be installed between a building and other fiber located in a nearby street. 

Broadband Fiber: Fiber optic wiring used to transport digital communications information.  Broadband generally refers to the ability to transport multiple video, voice, e-mail, Internet, and other data signals using the same physical line. 

Commercial Fiber : Broadband fiber and networks owned or operated by for-profit businesses. 

Conduit Capacity : Spare room within conduit to place fiber.    

Conduit Fiber Matrix : A contiguous network of non-exclusive conduits that link individual buildings or properties to a common point, also known as a meet-me-point.  Multiple communications networks can extend their networks to the meet-me-point, and then use the conduit fiber matrix to reach the individual properties (and buildings if there is building-to-street conduit available).   

Data Center : A room or building used for housing computer networking equipment.  Reliability and information security are key features of a data center.  A data center typically requires a significant amount of electrical power, very good air conditioning to keep the computer networking equipment from overheating, back-up power sufficient to maintain power for multiple days, sophisticated fire suppression systems, network operations monitoring systems, and high levels of security to control access.  Access is available 24x365, either remotely or in person. 

FiberNet: The County’s fiber optic communications network.  FiberNet contains over 500 miles of fiber and reaches over 600 County government, library, fire and police station, public school, public housing, and arts locations.  

Meet-Me-Point: A common point where communications networks can connect to each other or to other fiber.  When fiber is connected, the glass strands are perfectly spliced together to allow light to pass without disruption between different fibers.  Thus, a meet-me-point typically has room for fibers to be spliced together, either in some type of above- or underground locked cabinet, or in a building, such as a data center. 

Shared Cost Infrastructure: Fiber, conduit or other network equipment for which multiple entities share the use of, and cost to construct or operate. 

Wireless Access Point (AP) Equipment : Antennas to which electrical power is supplied and a wireline connection to a broadband network is provided.  These wireless APs enable broadband from the wireline network to be accessible using wireless devices, commonly known as WiFi.         

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