Broadband Communities

MAR-APR 2017

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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44 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | MARCH/APRIL 2017 RURAL BROADBAND No Municipal Utility? No Problem Until recently, most municipal fiber networks were built by existing municipal utilities. Experience with outside plant, billing and customer service gave them a head start toward providing broadband. But today, cities without utility departments are forging new paths to build and operate broadband networks. By Bruce Patterson / City of Ammon, Idaho; Jeremy Pietzold / City of Sandy, Oregon; Robert Wack / City of Westminster, Maryland F or a local government contemplating a municipal broadband project, the complexity and variety of models can be bewildering and daunting. Add in the generally unfamiliar terrain of telecom terminology, the rapidly changing landscape of data services and the regulatory uncertainty in some states, and it's no wonder many municipalities are waiting on the sidelines to see how the game plays out. Every community is unique, but those determined to forge ahead should look at models that best approximate the characteristics of their community. Enough communities have undertaken fiber builds and deployed gigabit services that good data is now available. Some high-profile community broadband success stories, such as Chattanooga, Tennessee; Lafayette, Louisiana; and Wilson, North Carolina, had pre-existing electric utilities that provided stable bases from which to deploy fiber networks. Electric utilities have several inherent advantages, such as ownership of poles, an existing customer base, dual use of fiber for grid management and pre-existing customer service infrastructure. at takes nothing away from their success – THREE MODELS FOR COMMUNITY BROADBAND Sandy, Oregon Ammon, Idaho Westminster, Maryland Population 10,000 14,500 18,000 City owns fiber and OSP Yes Yes Yes City operates network Yes Yes No City provides retail services Yes No No Retail Open Access (multiple providers) No Yes ** Debt financing Yes (revenue bond) No Yes (general obligation bond) Incumbents Frontier, Wave CenturyLink, Cable One Verizon, Comcast ** Currently, Ting is the sole provider on the Westminster Fiber Network, but it is contractually required to migrate to a structurally separated model and bring on additional retail service providers.

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