Broadband Communities

SEP 2018

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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A U G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 8 | w w w. b r o a d b a n d c o m m u n i t i e s . c o m | B R O A D B A N D C O M M U N I T I E S | 4 3 to increase capacity, improve stability and increase efficiency – all of which should enhance customers' service experience. By the time of the announcement, the company had already invested $20 million in rural and urban areas, according to Turner, and it expects to spend a total of about $50 million in the short term. "is is a significant upgrade to IFN's packet network," says Darryl Smith, IFN vice president of operations. "is is a multiphased project, scheduled to be completed in late 2019, leveraging the latest technology. e platform upgrades and architectural changes IFN is implementing will position our network to handle the capacity and demands created by new protocols, such as 5G, as they become more widely available." Turner says the upgrades fall into two principal categories: upgrading the core network to ensure that it has the stability and reliability that customers demand and expanding the network to allow it to acquire new customers. He explains that "IFN was built to the locations where customers asked us to build, but now we're stepping back and looking strategically at where we want to be. We'll build in those places and offer more commodity-type products." Now that it isn't selling only "what's right in front of us," Turner says, the company is gearing up its marketing department to help identify potential customers and product offerings. More important, it is revamping its operations to "make sure we can deliver on what we're selling." A LONG-TERM VISION e current expansion is only the beginning of Turner's vision – the network could keep growing for a long time. IFN's board recently approved a five-year growth forecast that may call for a total investment of between $100 and $125 million. IFN's funding comes from equity invested by the member-owners and from a debt facility with CoBank, a member-owned financial institution that serves cooperatives, agribusinesses and rural public utilities. Turner says, "We probably will both increase our debt and seek additional equity from our members. We're even exploring bringing on new member-owners. … ere may be other incumbent local exchange carriers that want to join. We're even looking at an interesting idea of bringing in investment from a wholesale electric generation and transmission company and some rural electric cooperatives. A few rural electric membership cooperatives have shown interest in doing fiber-to-the-home plays in their service territories. Rather than trying to fight them, can we partner with them and help find more creative ways to get fiber into every nook and cranny of Indiana?" THE PARK 30 PROJECT In May, IFN announced a contract with Whitley County, Indiana, to serve the Park 30 Business Center, a new industrial park developed by a electric cooperative, as well as additional businesses nearby. IFN is also constructing facilities in and around the industrial park to service area businesses along the fiber route. It started providing lit fiber services in the park in July. "We have come to realize that for businesses to flourish in Whitley County, broadband internet infrastructure is just as important as other services like water, sewer and roads," says George Schrumpf, president of the Whitley County Commissioners. "Expanding the county's fiber footprint will grow the businesses all along the U.S. 30 corridor." August Zehner, IFN's vice president for sales and marketing, says that as part of a buildout for a large customer, IFN built fiber through several small towns in the northeastern corner of Indiana. at made Park 30 and some other nearby business parks accessible for a reasonable cost, and the local economic development agency jumped at the chance to extend the fiber. From a financial standpoint, the Park 30 project was a big investment for IFN (Whitley County also contributed to the project), and Turner says the company is very happy with the initial response from business tenants. "It really enabled the park," he adds. "Tenants have multiple options for fiber." Recently, a number of local governments and economic development agencies throughout Indiana have become more interested in bringing fiber into their communities, Zehner The Intelligent Fiber Network

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