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BCCAN (Brown County Community Area Network)

The name of the service is Brown County Community Area Network (BCCAN) pronounced BEACON. The Brown County Board of Supervisors in conjunction with the County Executive established BCCAN to improve connectivity, interagency, internet and broadband access in 2007. This fiber infrastructure currently provides County, municipal, education institutions and telecommunication agencies fiber access throughout the County. BCCAN is currently partially self-funded with lease fees covering portions of the construction and operating costs.

Brown County consists of point to point Fiber runs and includes placing conduit in the ground. The conduit is a pipe with fiber running through it. The conduit protects the fiber.

Brown County does not act as an ISP (Internet Service Provider). Internet and hardware are provided by the leasing agencies.

BCCAN consists of approximately 55miles of fiber in the ground as of August 2014. The fiber network has improved access to County buildings on the fiber infrastructure reducing overall operational costs, and providing much needed high speed access to government and educational institutions. This high speed access allows nearly all County buildings, including the nearly all County public libraries, to have free WiFi Internet access for the public in those facilities.

The fiber can provide building to building, agency to agency connectivity, service provider and/or internet access through a 3rd party ISP (Internet Service Provider). Fiber is a good long term investment. Underground fiber and its conduit have a rough life of at least 20 years, while some experts suggest fiber life could be as long as 50 years and conduit could exceed 100 years.


The cost of fiber varies from $70,000 to $100,000 per mile. The cost is also affected by the number of strands we install. Brown County installs fiber bundles with 96 to 432 strands in the bundle. These fibers are also referred to as Dark Fiber. “Dark Fiber” requires some equipment to be connected to it to become active (network switches and/or optics gear).

Fiber is similar to roads or a racetrack going from one spot to another spot. A straight clean road can be used by numerous vehicles for lots of different purposes. The speed of the car (or equipment) controls the “speed of the road” on a racetrack. The road can limit the vehicle, but in general the vehicles ON the road determine the capacity. Another analogy is pipes pumping water one pumping from a location another to the location. The fiber is the pipe, but you need pumps (equipment) to get the water (or data) to flow through that fiber. Many technicians refer to fiber links as “pipes”.

The same applies to fiber networks you can use the same fiber to set up any of these networks:
• 100mb
• 1000mb or 1gb
• 10gb all the way to 400gb

More importantly fiber can be used with future technology. Single mode fiber will likely support terabit throughput capacities by changing the equipment on either end.

The BCCAN fiber “roads” or “pipes” are generally dedicated from one location to another. Two strands make a “road” with traffic going back and forth in opposite directions on each strand.

The county doesn’t manage or control 3rd party equipment. The agency leasing the fiber can use whatever equipment they choose to “light up the fiber”.

As noted strands are typically leased in pairs, functionally a “send pipe” and a “receive pipe” similar to a lanes in a road, where a “pair” is two strands. This means a 432 strand bundle can support 216 “2-way” connections. With expensive electronics each physical fiber pair can carry 8, 16, 32 or even 64 different signals corresponding to separate “links”.

Lots of fiber gives more options. Each fiber pair could be connected down the street or completely across the County. Those pairs could also stop at a junction and a small number of fibers could be run to an individual building. Once a pair is leased it is effectively used up and can’t be used for other purposes.

BCCAN has agreements with the following government entities:

• City of Green Bay
• Ashwebenon
• DePere
• Howard
• Aging and Disability Resource Center
• UW Extension
• Syble Hopp School
• Austin Straubel Airport
• Port and Resource Recovery

Currently BCCAN has partnerships with the following entities:

• Green Bay Schools
• Howard Suamico Schools
• UW System
• St. Norberts College
• nSight

Click here for a PDF map of the current BCCAN network.

Fiber and the Future
Any government entity, education institution, or telecommunications utility can lease fiber from Brown County. They also can pull fiber using the same private sector agents the county uses. There is fiber in Brown County from AT&T, nSight and TimeWarnerCable to name a few. Also, as noted, telecommunications vendors can lease fiber from Brown County.

All authorized entities have an equal opportunity to use BCCAN fiber. The primary focus of the fiber infrastructure is services such as 911, WAN and backup, however, County provided fiber may help entice development from providers such as nSight, AT&T and TimeWarner. Today fiber is provided only to select locations where there is clear value directly to County operations. Long term the County may choose to expand services. With the growth nationally of community based fiber networks, fiber may become a “highway and road” service. Some communities have already moved to full fiber infrastructure such as Chattooga’s fiber to the home project. There is national discussion regarding this through groups such as the FTTH Council

There are many communities that require conduit and fiber be laid under every new road, and be connected to every new building much like sewer, gas, electricity and water. This is referred to as “dig once” ordinances. As the County continues to work locally and with the state, these type of regulations, ordinances and laws will be discussed and reviewed. In general Brown County continues to assess the value of public, private and public/private partnerships to improve the availability of high speed broadband access for all County constituents.

To request more information about BCCAN, please click here.

Click here for the Brown County Board of Supervisors resolution (May, 2013) for this fiber expansion project.
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