Fairlawn, Ohio fuels regional economic growth with affordable fiber broadband

Fairlawn, Ohio bet big on municipal broadband back in 2016, with a goal to bring fast, affordable fiber Internet to every home and business in this Akron suburb. The city’s investment has paid off handsomely, fueling economic growth, boosting tax revenues, and creating a better place to live and work.

With Juniper infrastructure at its foundation, the city’s FairlawnGig broadband service is expanding into neighboring communities to bring prosperity and growth.

Overview


Company City of Fairlawn, Ohio
Industry Government and Non-Profit
Products used ACX5400MX480MX240EX2300Unified PON
Region Americas
City of Fairlawn Ohio Image
Customer Success At-a-glance

64%

Adoption of FairlawnGig network service by residents and businesses 

86

Net Promoter Score for FairlawnGig in 2021, a 6-point increase since March 2020           

Named one of four Smart21 Communities in the U.S. (Intelligent Community Forum, 2021)

Significantly lowered Internet costs for residents from an average of $4.23 per Mbps to 7.5 cents per Mbps (monthly)

CHALLENGE

Broadband is a utility in suburban Ohio

“We invested in broadband as if it were a utility,” says Ernie Staten, director of public service for Fairlawn. “Internet is part of our city infrastructure like roadways or water lines.”

FairlawnGig customers get affordable Internet and white-glove customer service. There are no surprise hidden fees, data caps, or long-term contracts.

With a majority of the city’s homes and businesses already connected to FairlawnGig, the pivot to working and learning from home was easier, as the network could handle heavy-duty videoconferencing, streaming media, and gaming, which all became the norm.

“We didn’t get a big uptick in customer requests,” says Staten. “FairlawnGig was already built to handle the needs of the COVID situation.”

With the view that the network is a force for public good, the city extended FairlawnGig to support remote criminal court proceedings in Akron, building a 17-mile network extension to connect 23 criminal justice facilities in Summit County. 

Fairlawn, Ohio Challenge
Solution

Economical, scalable network foundation

Juniper networking has been at the heart of FairlawnGig since the start, and it is one of the first networks in the U.S. to adopt Juniper’s solution for economical, scalable 10G passive optical networking (PON).

“Juniper Unified PON is a great innovation,” says Dustin Wright, CTO of FairlawnGig, where he is using the smart pluggable optical line terminal (OLT) and Juniper Networks ACX5448 Universal Metro Routers to bring fast Internet to low- and moderate-income neighborhoods in Akron.

The innovation allows FairlawnGig to deploy 10G PON services alongside Ethernet, simplifying the network architecture and streamlining engineering and customer support. Juniper’s Unified PON product also reduces power and space needs.

“We’ve shrunk down the PON equipment to one pluggable on the ACX router,” says Wright. “It’s one less box to power and one less moving part that can break.”

As an open, standards-based platform, Juniper Unified PON frees the team from vendor lock-in, allowing Wright to choose the best-fit PON distribution equipment for each use case.

FairlawnGig relies on Juniper MX480 Universal Routing Platforms for the core network and Juniper MX240 Universal Routing Platforms for the edge and data center connectivity. Direct connections to peering points in Chicago and Columbus, Ohio, add resilience and directly connect content providers and cloud services for a better user experience. 

Fairlawn, Ohio Solution
Outcome

The network is a force for the greater good

Fairlawn’s investment in fiber broadband has paid dividends through digital equity, greater consumer choice, and economic growth.

Residential customers report 95% satisfaction with FairlawnGig. At 93%, business customers cite similarly high rates.

Dozens of businesses have moved to Fairlawn, including a digital security firm. A top orthopedic clinic chose to build a new hospital in town because of the strength of the digital resources, says Staten. Home values have risen, and the city is attracting more families.

“Our state route is full of office parks, and we’re seeing business growth and retention,” he says. “The ROI for FairlawnGig is that we keep our tax revenues and people spend money in our city.”

FairlawnGig’s first six years of success are only the start. More innovation is in the immediate future as the team plans to build a 125-mile extension in Akron that will further enhance public safety, economic vitality, and quality of life in the region. 

Fairlawn, Ohio Outcome
“We want our community to have the best Internet service possible. With Juniper, we have been able to deliver on that intention.”
Ernie Staten Director of Public Service, Fairlawn

Published July 2022