Broadband Communities

NOV-DEC 2013

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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WHY WE NEED MORE FIBER Building a Smart Community With Fiber The FTTH network a North Dakota telco built supports utilities, agriculture, education and health care in its service area. By Joan Engebretson / Broadband Communities N orth Dakota–based telephone company Dickey Rural Networks (DRN) didn't set out to build a smart community, but over the last six years, that's what it has achieved. About 10 years ago, DRN began to deploy fber to the premises to about 9,000 locations spread across a 5,644-square-mile area roughly the size of Connecticut. To maximize take rates, DRN began exploring ways to enhance the value of a high-speed broadband fber connection. "We were trying to fnd applications for our customers and [learn] how they could utilize fber to help themselves," comments Janell Hauck, DRN sales manager. Today, DRN's fber network supports a smart electric grid, smart water distribution, smart farming, and advanced educational and health care applications. Te company's investment in the smart grid came about when two local utility companies that together serve a large part of the state wanted to interconnect 67 power stations to support advanced monitoring. "Tey gather data from the substations, and that allows for efciencies and faster response," explains Hauck. Dakota Carrier Network, a statewide fber network owned by a group of rural telephone companies, operates the fber backbone for the smart grid communications network. Virtual private network capability helps support a secure connection. Dakota Carrier Network manages the smart grid network, which includes last-mile fber connections to power stations from several rural telcos, including DRN. DRN's smart water application came about after DRN approached the local water company, which previously relied on an aging wireless system to provide connectivity to 12 booster stations within DRN's territory. By upgrading to fber connectivity from DRN, the water company enhanced its monitoring and diagnostic capability. "Tey can tell if there is a leak," explains Hauck. "If pressure drops, it's reported immediately to technicians. Instead of [their] driving to each reservoir or lift station, an alert is texted to them or comes through email." SMART FARMING, EDUCATION AND HEALTH CARE DRN's smart farm applications use digital video cameras installed in customers' barns and shops and connected to the Internet via DRN fber. "As farms get bigger, you have a lot of farms that no one is living on," notes Hauck. "But they may have millions of dollars' worth of equipment. With video surveillance, farmers can monitor their equipment from a smartphone or the Internet." In addition, she says, "Some farmers Contribute to Why We Need More Fiber This column welcomes fresh, informative, eye-opening contributions from readers – in lengths from a paragraph to a page. To share your thoughts on why we need more fber, email 22 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2013

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