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BCCAN (Brown County Community Area Network)

The Brown County Community Area Network (BCCAN - pronounced BEACON) fiber optic project began in 2007 through bond approval by the Brown County Board of Supervisors in conjunction with the County Executive. This fiber infrastructure was created to improve LAN/WAN connectivity between Brown County departments. In addition, the Brown County Technology Services department had foresight and with an eye to the future built in reserve capacity that one day would allow other entities (including municipal government agencies, educational institutions, healthcare entities, not-for-profit and non-profit agencies) to access very high speed LAN/WAN and/or internet services in the Brown County area. A resolution in 2013 expanded the fiber footprint through an agreement with MERIT. Further expansion of BCCAN services and eligible entities was approved through a 2016 resolution. With this 2016 resolution, eligible entities now include for-profit businesses within defined community development zones, as well as telecommunication agencies.

BCCAN provides fiber network, optional internet access and security related services. The BCCAN network also reduces the County’s costs of high speed connectivity to other government and educational institutions. Additionally, Brown County continually works locally and with the state and federal government to improve high speed connectivity. For instance, BCCAN provides services to schools and the local libraries through the federal eRate program (as a cost comparison, in a 2017 eRate fiber bid to provide fiber networking to community schools, BCCAN won the competitive bid through a cost savings of over $2.5 million dollars compared to the next nearest bidder). Furthermore, BCCAN provides the network that allows free public WiFi internet access to County buildings including public libraries, the Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport, Neville Public Museum and the NEW Zoo.

BCCAN consists of approximately 65 miles of underground fiber infrastructure as of March 2017 and is currently partially self-funded with lease fees covering portions of construction and operating costs. Fiber is a long term investment; underground fiber and its conduit have a life of at least 20 years, and some experts suggest fiber and conduit life could well exceed 50 years.

Benefits Now and In the Future

All authorized entities have an equal opportunity to use available BCCAN fiber. The core purpose of the fiber infrastructure is for services such as 911 Emergency, WAN and backup services. However, County-provided fiber may help entice development from providers such as Nsight, AT&T and Spectrum by providing a funding mechanism to install fiber.

Today, fiber is provided only where there is both a clear, direct value to County operations and a financial benefit. With the national growth of community based fiber networks and the increasing importance of high speed internet, some communities have already moved to a full fiber infrastructure, such as the networks in Chattanooga (see Chattanooga, Tennessee’s GigCity) and Salisbury (Salisbury, North Carolina’s fibrant). There is national discussion regarding community based high speed internet, facilitated by fiber networks through groups such as the Fiber Broadband Association (For a list of other community networks both in Wisconsin and nationally, see Community Area Networks sidebar on page 3).

Other communities are legislating to improve fiber access, requiring conduit and fiber be laid under every new road and connected to every new building – much like sewer, gas, electricity and water. This type of requirement is referred to as a “dig once” ordinance and it is considered the most cost effective method of implementing fiber connectivity. Brown County keeps an eye to the future – assessing the value of public, private and public/private partnerships to improve access and ensure availability of broadband and high speed internet access for all County constituents.

Long Term Goals

BCCAN will continually partner to improve access to high speed internet. Fiber can facilitate a broad range of high speed communication technology and can be reused as other technology is retired. Community Area Networks such as BCCAN are the foundation of SMART Cities’ and SMART Counties’ technology initiatives. BCCAN goals include:

  • Major expansions: Wrightstown, Pulaski, Denmark, and Northeast Brown County
  • Working with municipalities to ensure they have fiber or full internet service if they choose leveraging BCCAN.
  • All 911 Radio towers for next-gen-911. This would also allow the County to reduce or eliminate expensive tower to tower repeater systems. That same fiber would also permit the possibility of a County government mesh wireless network, leasing for a public mesh wireless network or a public/private partnership.
  • Continue to work with school districts to improve access and reduce the digital divide.
  • Work with healthcare providers to improve rural healthcare access via the internet & BCCAN.
  • Ensure we have multiple fiber paths in and out of the County. Currently we have MERIT to the north and WiscNet to the South but no West runs. Expand fiber to ensure mesh access. St. Norbert’s College run was recently completed.
  • Partner within the region: Door County, Kewaunee County, Outagamie, Manitowoc and Shawano using fiber runs to allow for shared services, mutual aid and reduced telecommunication expenses.
  • Support directly or indirectly East and West Green Bay Fiber Arterial to ensure technology-dependent businesses are attracted to the region.
  • Work with the County Board to add a dig once pro-fiber ordinance for the County.
  • Facilitate business development. (Since first offering its fiber optic service in 2012, Chattanooga, Tenn. has generated over $400 million in new business investments and 6,000 new jobs.)

Questions & Answers

Who qualifies to lease fiber or fiber & internet access?
Qualifying entities include schools, healthcare agencies, non-profit organizations, telecommunications agencies, municipalities and government entities. For-profit businesses residing in a qualifying business development zone are also eligible.

Can I lease fiber only? / Can I lease conduit only?
Yes, assuming it is available and you qualify.

Who maintains the fiber?
The fiber infrastructure maintenance and locates are paid for by BCCAN, which is part of the charge back expense for any fiber or fiber and internet access.

How much does it cost?
Cost varies with the amount of fiber leased on a per mile basis and whether any connection or “build out” costs are customer paid or embedded in the lease.

If fiber must be pulled to your location, the cost is anywhere from $70,000 to $100,000 per mile.

All costs must be charged back as part of any lease (per resolution).

How do I get BCCAN?
You can email a request to: to get more information. Or you can contact Kevin Raye at 920-448-4030.
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