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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24 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | MARCH/APRIL 2016 FTTH DEPLOYMENT Gigabit From the Ground Up Metro Development Group is creating a brand-new, high-tech community in Florida's Pasco County. Collaborations with the county government and with US Ignite are critical to the project's success. By Masha Zager / Broadband Communities S everal years ago, the Florida-based developer Metro Development Group (MDG) made a commitment to provide six new residential communities with gigabit fber- to-the-home services, delivered by Bright House Networks and branded as ULTRAFi. Tat story appeared in the May-June 2014 issue of this magazine – but it turned out to be only the frst chapter of a longer, more interesting story. Based on its experience developing the frst ULTRAFi communities, MDG decided that advanced technology should be a critical component of all its new developments and began seeking more opportunities to incorporate technology into its planning. "We looked at what Google Fiber has done," says Greg Singleton, MDG's president, "and saw the impact it had in infll areas across the country. We saw that it really was an incubator, and that new businesses sprouted up around it. But it was expensive. In a greenfeld development, putting fber in is way less expensive than going under concrete." THE CONNECTED-CITY CORRIDOR MDG owned about 2,500 acres of undeveloped land in Florida's Pasco County, north of Tampa, in an area that the county government was eager to see developed, and it planned to create a mixed-use development there – a new town that would include residences, schools, health care facilities, ofces and stores. Tis seemed like the perfect place for a technology- centered community. Fiber to the premises was just a starting point for the new community. Ten, Singleton says, "We broadened it to include electric vehicles, renewable energy, central amenities such as an ecofriendly crystal lagoon [a type of artifcial lake] – we wanted to make it a cool place to live." Pasco County ofcials hoped to attract technology jobs and embraced MDG's concept. Singleton explains, "When companies are looking to locate or relocate, they ask, 'Where can we get the speeds we need?' Ten we've got a strong story to tell: Tey can get those speeds at the house and at the company – it's all right there. Tey don't have to wonder, 'Where are my employees going to live?' Tey won't have to pay them a million dollars a year to live there." While brainstorming with Pasco County ofcials, MDG proposed the idea of creating a special planning district, now called a connected-city corridor. Te county would designate a rectangle of 7,800 acres, about one- third of which was the land owned by MDG, as a potential high-technology innovation district and give it expedited permitting – no special rules or exemptions, just a fast track. As Singleton explains, "It gives us an allocation of resources from Pasco County to get the planning and approval process expedited. For example, if a hospital wanted to be in the district, it would have taken three years to go through the approvals, but we can get it done way faster. So it gives our area a competitive advantage. Tere's way more certainty of execution." Local regulations match state regulations, so there are no additional hurdles to jump after the county approvals.