Broadband Communities

MAY-JUN 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 AY / J U N E 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 7 rst two years, but there would be no cost to residents. With 213 units at $10 per month, the total cost to SFHDC runs just under $26,000 per year – half what Comcast bid for an inferior option. After that, Monkeybrains can donate the bandwidth, extend the agreement with SFHDC or o„er a low-priced service directly to residents. Monkeybrains takes help-desk calls from HPEW residents just as it does for other customers. While renovating and securing the internet upgrades after winning the bid, Monkeybrains realized it could tap into funding from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF). It secured nearly $80,000 in CASF funding for the HPEW installation, which allowed it to install common-area Wi-Fi in addition to the in-unit connections. (Because of changes in state law, CASF now signicantly restricts funding eligibility for projects like this one.) INTERNAL WIRING AT HPEW Ongoing renovations at HPEW simplied the network installation process. Monkeybrains said the project upgrade from hallway Wi-Fi to in-unit Ethernet access was "as simple as a change order." •e contractors were to pull new Cat 5e wiring to each unit for telephones and install a type of jack that supports only landlines. Depending on how these wires are installed in the unit, they can support either DSL connections or, with the new jack Monkeybrains requested, Ethernet connections at 100 Mbps and regular telephone connectivity simultaneously. "•is simple change order added almost no cost but would have been a giant hassle and expense if done later," Rhea explained. "We were able to install a simple Ethernet switch in each building. Now we have a local area network … in each building." Although the current wiring supports 100 Mbps symmetrical, Monkeybrains could have asked the contractors to pull two cables instead of one if it had had advance knowledge of the renovation. •e ISP says if a resident wants to upgrade and does not need to use the landline for telephone service, it will send a technician at no charge to reprogram the jack to support 1 Gbps. To date, no one has requested this change. •ough communication between the ISP and SFHDC allowed for a streamlined installation process, costs could have been even lower had the parties been in contact sooner. Running ber between the 27 campus-style buildings and entry into each building would have been less expensive during the major construction phase, when other utilities were being upgraded. Likewise, running wires to each unit would have been less expensive when crews were doing similar work, rather than after the fact. •e city since has streamlined e„orts to ensure that wiring changes occur simultaneously with housing renovations. DT has plans to connect more than 20 additional public housing complexes in scal year 2019–2020. DOING IT RIGHT Mason Carroll and Rhea, lead engineers for Monkeybrains, underscore the importance of not simply installing buildingwide Wi-Fi access. •ey wanted to o„er the same high-quality service to a„ordable-housing units that all their customers expect. According to Rhea and Carroll, using a single Wi-Fi access point per building "only invests money to further cement the digital divide by establishing di„erent classes of communications infrastructure for di„erent classes of residents." Wi-Fi in the hallways is a nice amenity, say Rhea and Carroll, but it is not a su¢cient, long-term solution for connecting the households in these buildings. Because a dozen or so families in each building share internet access, heavy use in a few households can cause severe slowdowns for others. In addition, shared Wi-Fi can be less secure than a private connection, and quality of service can vary tremendously depending on a unit's location relative to the Wi-Fi access point. As more residents depend on telemedicine in coming years and are generally more connected, hallway Wi-Fi may not adequately meet standard needs. •ough buildingwide Wi-Fi may seem like an easier lift, Monkeybrains says that with the right planning, in-unit connectivity can be as simple and does more to bridge the digital divide. Getting the wiring right from the start may be the di„erence between a sustainable, low-cost, high-quality Monkeybrains technicians discuss internet delivery with Leo Sosa of Photo credits: Monkeybrains

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