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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M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 9 | 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 9 network citywide and, in the process, take over the ISP role. e city accepted these recommendations, and MCG is now in the process of transitioning out as the utility takes over. According to Burnett, MCG's takeway from its Indianola experience was that it prefers to "control the entire experience – building a network, supporting it and providing the customer service." In its original Oskaloosa network, the company performed all the deployment work itself, in part because there were few FTTH experts available to call on in 2003. "We learned on our own," Burnett says. EXPANSION TO UNDERSERVED COMMUNITIES Rather than look for other municipalities to partner with, therefore, MCG decided to build out fiber to underserved communities in Mahaska County – particularly communities that couldn't afford to build their own fiber. In 2018, it launched gigabit services in Cedar, an unincorporated community outside Oskaloosa, and in New Sharon, a town of 1,300. is year, it began building fiber to the home in Montezuma (population 1,500) and Lake Ponderosa, a small lakeside community outside Montezuma. is expansion is taking place as fast as MCG can manage internally so it can remain in control of the process. As Burnett puts it, "We do what we can do with the staff that we have at the rate we can do it." e choice of where to build depends largely on how much a community wants service. "We like to go where we're wanted and needed," Burnett says. "ey all say they want you to come, but will they actually sign up?" MCG surveys communities before making a decision. It conducts the surveys itself ("much less expensive than paying someone else to do it") and seeks a level of interest that will generate a 40 percent take rate after several years. So far, New Sharon, the first expansion community, is beating expectations with a 20 percent take rate after six months. In deeply rural parts of the county that have no population clusters, MCG has provided wireless service for more than a decade. In 2016, MCG began replacing obsolete wireless radios with new equipment that allows it to offer unlimited 40 Mbps/4 Mbps service, using both fiber and wireless backhaul. In 2018, it significantly expanded wireless coverage in Mahaska County, and in the next few years, it expects to expand into neighboring Poweshiek and Keokuk counties. CONCERN FOR THE COMMUNITY ese fiber and wireless projects are financed internally by the parent company, Musco Lighting, which invested more than $3 million in broadband in the last two years. Although the projects are expected to be profitable, ROI targets are lower than what a public company might Oskaloosa, Iowa, was the first city MCG wired with fiber.

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