Broadband Communities

AUG-SEP 2015

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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56 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | | AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2015 COMMUNITY BROADBAND network. Te network owner ofers access to its physical network on nondiscriminatory terms to any requesting service provider that can plug its equipment into the network and ofer services. South Portland, Maine, and Champaign-Urbana, Ill., require their private partners to ofer open access to service providers. From the city's perspective, an open-access policy has the advantage of promoting service competition because it prevents the owner of the physical network from dominating the market for network services. From the network builder/owner's perspective, open access may reduce profts because competition will likely lower market prices for network services. Tis means the network owner will take longer to recover its costs and turn a proft, which could mean no new buildout ever occurs. But if a party is willing to invest in a next-generation network with an open-access requirement, such a policy could, in the long run, result in more innovative services, lower prices and greater access for residents and businesses. When Google announced its Kansas City fber deployment, it initially suggested the network would be open-access. Later, however, it reversed its position, saying that, after the company had studied the economics of deployment and consumer behavior, the advantages of open access were not sufcient to justify the increased costs and risks of that business model. Google has said the costs of obtaining traditional programming packages and the need to ofer a multichannel video package make open access economically nonviable. In contrast, Champaign-Urbana's fber network embraces the open-access ideal. Champaign-Urbana's network originated under a federal BTOP grant that came with an open-access requirement. As the network operator evolved into a nonproft (UC2B) and then a partnership between UC2B and private service provider iTV-3, open access remained a core principle. Te BTOP grant made open access a precondition when UC2B went looking for an expansion partner. One potential (but untried) compromise is to allow the network builder a limited grace period during which it can be the sole service provider – which would allow it to recoup upfront costs more quickly – followed by an open-access policy thereafter. Tis grace period can be negotiated as a number of years or pegged directly to cost recoupment. FREE NETWORK SERVICES Every contract analyzed mandates the ISP to provide free services for the city and/or other public facilities. Tis is often an important negotiating point for city ofcials because free network services can save costs for the city or serve some other policy objective. City ofcials should examine their existing IT costs and either try to minimize them by procuring as many free services as possible or leverage them to stimulate the buildout of the network. Google's contract with Kansas City allots free Internet connection service, of the same kind ofered to the general public, to 130 locations, including city facilities, public utility sites and school districts. One caveat is that such free service facilities will be connected only as they are passed by the natural progression of the network's construction. Another caveat is that Google will cover the cost of connection only if it is "commercially reasonable." Otherwise, "Google and Kansas City will discuss options to address that issue." Most important, following such connection, these locations will receive Internet services free of charge. AT&T's contract with Raleigh similarly uses a quota to provide service to "public or non-proft facilities that provide access and services directly to citizens." Te agreement specifes that 100 sites can be chosen across the six municipalities that form the North Carolina Next Generation Network. Te relevant city must pay for the cost of connection (estimated to be $300– $500), and schools and libraries are not included unless they qualify for funding through E-Rate, the federal program that subsidizes broadband connections for low-income schools and libraries. Another free service that can be negotiated, particularly in the case of a dark fber network such as the one GWI provides in South Portland, Maine, is an Internet point of presence. Without this, the city could still pay a signifcant sum of money to connect its facilities to the Internet despite having high-speed fber connections internally. GWI's contract stipulates that it will provide an Internet connection at a termination point designated by the city, capable of at least 100 Mbps PERSONNEL COMMITMENTS: KEY CONSIDERATION FOR COMMUNITIES • How will dedicating such a team afect city resources and other high- priority construction processes? OPEN ACCESS: KEY CONSIDERATIONS FOR COMMUNITIES • Does the city want to try an open-access model? • Have ISPs expressed initial interest in working with the city to implement an open-access network policy?

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