Connectivity in local government and municipalities has always been challenging. Historically there is a single LEC (local exchange carrier) that provides all the services. Unfortunately, the more rural the community, the more power the LEC holds. As cloud adoption is rising, so are the expectations of residents living in each community. Not only is there a demand for more services, but it is also becoming a requirement of more connectivity, in more places.

When I started at the city, one of the first things I evaluated was the current connectivity. Evaluating connectivity is important for many reasons; but the user experience is paramount. Users get frustrated when technology is slow, and many times, improving connectivity can drastically improve the user experience. Next reason is that frequently entities of all types are paying significantly more than market rate for their data services.

It's important to identify all CLEC's in your region and determine what and where they can service. Many times municipalities rely on the RFP process, but commonly carriers miss these opportunities when they are posted.

I discovered that most of the remote sites were connected to DIA (Dedicated Internet Access) circuits and utilizing an SD-WAN architecture to interconnect them. While this is pretty common place in corporate networks, I have seen it less in municipality networks. Since most municipal networks are regional, it's less common to need SD-WAN.

After reviewing the configuration, I determined by switching our services we could see large bandwidth increases, and save a significant amount of money by restructuring our communications contracts. I decided the best path forward would to be to work with our local CLEC to migrate some of our connectivity to a hybrid mixture of Dark-Fiber and ELAN. By utilizing dark-fiber, we were able to increase our bandwidth from 50 mbps to 10 Gbps, while reducing total cost. Additionally, we were able to transition a DIA circuit from 200 mbps to 1 Gbps ELAN.

When evaluating DIA services, there are several key factors technical factors to evaluate.

  • Fully diverse paths for primary and seconday connections
    We need to make sure that the fiber path they take doesn't cross, to reduce the potential of outage affecting both circuits simultaneously. Getting each carrier to provide a KMZ showing each path to ensure they dont intersect.
  • Carriers have peer diversity
    Ensuring that both carriers are not relying on eachother to provide provide IP transit. The easy way to check this is by using Hurricane Electric's BGP toolkit @
  • Support for BGP peering
    Utlizing BGP to balence traffic and create fully redudant routes to your IP space will simplfy your failover, and enable a highly fault tolerant network.
  • Tier 1 vs Tier 2 vs Tier 3
    It all boils down to the fewer hops the better. There are very few Tier 1 carriers. Tier 1 carriers freely exchange traffic between eachother and do not rely on 3rd party connections between networks. Typically Tier 1 connections are the most expensive. Tier 2 carriers typically create a blend of multiple tier ones, and privately peer with smaller carriers and services. For most networks, I like to see one Tier 1 provider, and one Tier 2 provider.
List of Current Tier 1 Providers