BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.
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38 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016 FINANCING Property Assessed Broadband A new proposal for building rural broadband together with communities. By Ken Pyle / Viodi View D iscussions at the 2015 Calix User Group in October inspired me to think about a new approach to funding rural broadband. First, Tom Cohen, partner at Kelley Drye, suggested that the FCC's priority is fber deployment, as opposed to downstream speed. Ten Jonathan Chambers, chief of the FCC Ofce of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis, commented on the importance of funneling money to communities. Finally, Calix's Juan Vela tied home and community together, saying, "Te building block of every community is the home." If home is where community begins, perhaps policymakers should start there as they look at new ways of funding rural broadband. What if there was a way for property owners to "tax" themselves to bring broadband to their respective homes? COMMUNICATIONS OWNERS ASSOCIATIONS Although the notion of people taxing themselves to pay for broadband may sound like a municipal overbuild, it isn't. It is about individuals deciding they are willing to pay for their respective portions of a fber-to-the- premises (FTTP) network. It is also about creating a process and framework to allow individuals to form communications owners associations, similar to homeowners associations. If property owners agreed to pay for their portions of fxed and variable costs to build a network, the amortized costs would be added to their property taxes over a fxed time frame, much as the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program helps property owners in many states fnance energy efciency upgrades. Te roots of PACE reportedly trace back to an "aha" moment by the then chief of staf for the mayor of Berkeley, Calif., who realized that tax assessment districts that could be used for placing utilities underground could also be used for rooftop solar and other energy efciency improvements. PACE has had growing pains, and it isn't perfect, but it has interesting potential for fnancing broadband. Of course, one homeowner doesn't make a network, but homeowner equity as a funding source can be combined with the fberhood concept pioneered by many independent telcos and made famous by Google. If enough neighbors band together, they will have a critical mass to create a viable FTTP network. To create a fnancially viable network, the penetration often must be between 20 and 30 percent, but this threshold varies depending upon parameters such as construction costs, housing density and middle-mile costs. New approaches to fnancing broadband will be discussed at the 2016 BroadBand C ommunities summit , April 5–7 in Austin. h f i