New company to host municipal network in St. Clair Shores

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published January 12, 2021

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — In an effort to improve connectivity and services, while saving money, City Council voted to switch from WOW to another service provider for its multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) service, which connects city buildings to each other over a private network.

City Manager Matthew Coppler explained Jan. 4 that the city currently pays WOW $4,421.99 per month for that service, which is a fiber optic line attached to coaxial cable once it hits the city buildings. The city’s contract with WOW expired late in 2020. Instead of signing a one-year renewal with the company, Coppler decided to seek bids on services from other providers in an effort to increase the speed and capacity of the connections, reduce costs, and get the city ready to move to the next level of services that will provide more robust connectivity while addressing security and redundancy concerns on the network.

Coppler said the network, internet, cable and phone lines in the city had been added in a disjointed fashion with “no rhyme or reason.”

“We have a really good handle on all these things now, and we see where we can provide a higher level of service for less money,” he said.

The company put forward for City Council’s consideration, ManagedWay of Troy, will increase the city’s network capacity from 100Mbps to 500Mbps and increase the internet connection from 300Mbps to 500Mbps for $4,216 per month.

In addition, ManagedWay will provide the city with its own fiber optic network from point to point so the city will get higher capacity and better control of its information.

“Going with ManagedWay, that is actually going to be fiber, end to end. Between Comcast and WOW, their last mile is coaxial,” he said. “When you look at the way — even though it’s a private system on WOW right now — we are commingled on fiber with other entities. When we go with ManagedWay, we won’t be commingled.”

Coppler acknowledged that WOW’s new bid for the services was about $300 cheaper per month than ManagedWay, but Wow would still be using a combination of fiber optic and coaxial cable and ManagedWay had better technology moving forward whenever the city was ready to upgrade its networks. The ManagedWay quote is still less than what the city is currently paying WOW, he said.

Because of the increased speed, security and capacity, “it makes a lot more sense to spend a few extra bucks to have that robust service,” he said.

City Council voted 7-0 to approve the three-year contract with ManagedWay.

Councilwoman Candice Rusie said she appreciated that Coppler wasn’t satisfied with the status quo.

“With a fresh set of eyes ... you’re finding not only different ways of doing things, but savings,” she said.