Broadband Communities

NOV-DEC 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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N O V E M B E R / D E C 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 | 2 7 and beyond their geographic borders. If they wanted to serve other entities, they were limited to providing wholesale services within their borders. HB 2664 removed the geographic restriction for wholesale services, allowing ports to work with private-sector partners to bring better connectivity to surrounding regions. Another sticking point that HB 2664 eliminated was the requirement that only rural ports could use their fiber to offer services. is prevented communities with higher population densities from using existing fiber assets to attract competition. e bill simply struck the requirement that ports be rural to offer services. e Port of Ridgefield, one of the entities that worked hard to get the bill passed, is already planning to take advantage of the change in the law. It intends to build out its existing fiber resources into a 42-mile dark fiber loop as part of larger economic development plans for the area. e Port of Chehalis in Lewis County is considering a similar project, and ports along the I-5 corridor stretching from Portland, Oregon, to Seattle have discussed a regional project. In Bellingham, citizens who pressed the city to explore a municipal broadband network applauded the chance to someday receive connectivity from their port authority. INDIANA A growing number of electric cooperatives are listening to members who want high-quality internet access. Co-op boards see the need and the opportunity to use their fiber infrastructure to offer FTTH internet access while enhancing delivery of electric services for members. In some areas, cooperatives offer FTTH to nonmembers along the edges of their service areas. In 2017, Indiana state lawmakers eased the way for electric cooperatives interested in bringing better connectivity to rural areas. Gov. Eric Holcomb signed SB 478, known as the Facilitating Internet Broadband Rural Expansion (FIBRE) Act. e new law facilitates fiber optic deployment by reducing the need to obtain separate easements for fiber lines if cooperatives already possess easements for electric lines. e FIBRE Act applies only to existing easements between electric suppliers and property owners. New electric easements, easements on railroad property, and the installation of new poles, conduit or other structures aren't under the purview of the new law. Other exceptions also apply to limit the new easement applications to existing infrastructure. If a property owner opposes an easement for fiber optic installation, the FIBRE Act offers a course of action to try to prevent the easement. ere are strict guidelines regarding the information the electric cooperative must provide to the property owner, including the co-op's plan for deployment and services it will deliver. If a property owner feels deployment will negatively impact property value, she or he can pursue legal action as spelled out in the FIBRE Act. If an electric cooperative is able to proceed with deployment, it must follow certain procedural requirements, including creating a separate entity for telecom service and maintaining a separate accounting system. e bill had strong bipartisan support in both state legislative bodies, passing 49-1 in the senate and 96-2 in the house. Electric cooperatives in rural Indiana capitalized on the legislative assist during 2018: Orange County REMC, Jackson County REMC and South Central REMC are all working on FTTH projects to better serve their rural members. v Lisa Gonzalez is a senior researcher at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. She can be reached at lgonzalez@ilsr.org.

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