Sunday, March 3, 2013

Why a one-room West Virginia library
runs a $20,000 Cisco router

Yes, this library has a Cisco 3945 router.

Why a one-room West Virginia library runs a $20,000 Cisco router
West Virginia wasted $5M on enterprise-class gear.

by Nate Anderson - Feb 25 2013, 3:40pm PST

Marmet, West Virginia is a town of 1,500 people living in a thin ribbon along the banks of the Kanawha River just below Charleston. The town's public library is only open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. It's housed in a small building the size of a trailer, which the state of West Virginia describes as an "extremely small facility with only one Internet connection." Which is why it's such a surprise to learn the Marmet Public Library runs this connection through a $15,000 to $20,000 Cisco 3945 router intended for "mid-size to large deployments," according to Cisco.

In an absolutely scathing report (PDF) just released by the state's legislative auditor, West Virginia officials are accused of overspending at least $5 million of federal money on such routers, installed indiscriminately in both large institutions and one-room libraries across the state. The routers were purchased without ever asking the state's libraries, cops, and schools what they needed. And when distributed, the expensive routers were passed out without much apparent care. The small town of Clay received seven of them to serve a total population of 491 people... and all seven routers were installed within only .44 miles of each other at a total cost of more than $100,000.

In total, $24 million was spent on the routers through a not-very-open bidding process under which non-Cisco router manufacturers such as Juniper and Alcatel-Lucent were not "given notice or any opportunity to bid." As for Cisco, which helped put the massive package together, the legislative auditor concluded that the company "had a moral responsibility to propose a plan which reasonably complied with Cisco's own engineering standards" but that instead "Cisco representatives showed a wanton indifference to the interests of the public in recommending using $24 million of public funds to purchase 1,164 Cisco model 3945 branch routers."

In other words, the project has been a stellar example of what not to do and how not to do it.

Full article here:


  1. It would be interesting to know who lives in or, perhaps more importantly, who frequently visits (e.g., to service these routers) Marmet. WV is a favorite place to hide things.

  2. A one room library could do fine with a $39.99 Linksys (by cisco) router from wal-mart.

    The other problem with these high-end cisco routers is that they need set up and configured by people who know how to configure cisco routers. Most times it's by "cisco certified" techs.

    So not only was there the cost of the hardware, but unless they contracted the networking config to cisco certified technicians or people who have the knowledge - these things might very well be still sitting in the box.


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