Broadband Communities

MAR-APR 2019

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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CONNECTIVITY MATTERS 1 4 | B R O A D B A N D C O M M U N I T I E S | 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 | M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 9 One Size Does Not Fit All Three approaches to community broadband networks By Trevor Jones / OTELCO O ne of the first decisions a community needs to make in bringing broadband to residents is what sort of network to operate. Should the network be closed, with one ISP providing service to residents; open and lit, providing the basic infrastructure for potentially competing ISPs; or open with dark fiber leased to competing ISPs? All three models have their proponents and detractors. In my experience and opinion, no one model is ideal for every community. Each option impacts how a community will build and operate a network, and each has advantages and disadvantages. Which is best for a community depends upon factors such as population density, the time and energy the community can afford to invest in managing the solution, and its risk tolerance. CLOSED NETWORK In this model, communities either provide ISP services themselves or contract with a single internet service provider to serve residents. Generally, towns select a contracted ISP through a municipal procurement process that includes a request for proposals (RFP). e ISP then has the exclusive right to provide service via the community broadband network for a contract period of three to five years. PRO: e community maintains competitiveness in its internet services through the bid process. PRO: e ISP can be held accountable for service quality through a strong service level agreement. PRO: e ISP can be held accountable for the market penetration levels needed to recover the network cost. PRO: From the ISP's perspective, this model provides less risk to market penetration rates. CON: A closed network offers less choice to end users than an open-access network. CON: A closed network limits pricing competition until the next contract renewal. e closed network option works best in small communities that lack the population density necessary to attract and support multiple providers. It has been used successfully in many areas, including Leverett, Massachusetts, where OTELCO is currently the contracted ISP. OPEN ACCESS – LIT SERVICES In an open-access network, the network operator provides connectivity at competitive, nondiscriminatory rates to any carrier that wants to provide services. One way this can be done is for the town to "light" the network and sell Ethernet connections to ISPs that they can in turn use to serve customers. In addition to fiber cables installed on poles or buried in rights-of-way, fiber optic broadband networks need electronics to carry data over the fiber. is includes optical line terminations (OLTs) in network hubs as well as optical network terminations (ONTs) at customer premises on the network. ese devices account for approximately 15–20 percent of the total cost of a fiber network. Over time, there will also be costs to power, maintain and replace this equipment. On the other hand, lighting the network should allow communities to manage their fiber utilization better, resulting in cost savings on the physical infrastructure. An ISP that wishes to serve a community establishes a network-to-network interface, or NNI, to connect its internet, phone and other services to the OLT at the network hub. Typically, it installs routers and sometimes other devices in rack space and brings in one or more internet connections over the middle-mile network. PRO: is model has a lower cost of entry than its dark fiber cousin for ISPs to bring service to town because they don't need to build and operate Ethernet networks over the fiber. PRO: Lit services networks offer capital cost savings opportunities compared with dark fiber. For example, a lit network can efficiently serve multiple homes on a single fiber using PON, whereas a dark fiber network

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