Broadband Communities

MAY-JUN 2014

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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42 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | | MAY/JUNE 2014 COMMUNITY BROADBAND Planning for the Best Case When a community builds a gigabit broadband network, it must be prepared for an enthusiastic response. Longmont, Colo., shows how to plan for high take rates. By Craig Settles / Gigabit Nation W hen Longmont, Colo., created its pilot broadband deployment, community leaders tried to anticipate the many things that possibly could go wrong: Contractors might fall behind schedule, permitting processes might take longer than expected and, of course, in the worst-case scenario, take rates might fall way short of projections. Unlike some communities, Longmont also tried to plan for what might go right. Longmont, a community of 87,000 people northeast of Denver, launched its pilot FTTH program to homes and businesses beginning in 2013, leading a surge of gigabit city announcements. In September of that year, the city received the Community Broadband Fiber Network of the Year award from the National Association of Telecommunications Ofcers and Advisors, an association of government ofcials who manage communications and technology; in November, citizens voted to approve $44 million in bonds for a citywide buildout, and the city began the process of expanding the network. As Longmont's successes multiply and the network's popularity skyrockets, the importance of planning for the halo efect – the best-case scenario in which everything that could go right does go right and take rates far exceed expectations – becomes increasingly clear. Because, yes, there defnitely can be too much of a good thing. "Our network is being built to sustain a 100 percent take rate by the entire city," states Vince Jordan, telecom manager for Longmont Power and Communications, the municipal utility that is deploying the network. "Our residential pilot had a 60 percent take rate with just one round of promotion for the service. If we marketed with direct mail or additional outreach to the remainder of homes in that area, the take rate would probably go to 75–80 percent. But if we actually got 100 percent, we'd be severely strained fnancially." Other community-based projects have experienced higher-than-expected take rates. For example, the Greenlight community network in Wilson, N.C., quickly exceeded its take-rate projections soon after launch in 2008. Co-Mo Electric Cooperative in Missouri expected its pilot to have a take rate of about 25 percent, but 30 percent of homes subscribed to the service during the pilot. Demand from homes outside the Co-Mo pilot area also is exceeding expectations as those residents learn about the project. Communities joining the gigabit ranks of the newly wired, particularly in rural areas, continue to report strong early subscriber numbers. Calix, the FTTH equipment vendor involved in many gigabit deployments, believes that gigabit speed has proven to have a powerful appeal to consumers. As explained by David Russell, solutions marketing director, "Gigabit is very clearly defned in consumers' minds in a way that FTTH alone was not. Because it is so highly diferentiated from other service oferings, ofering a gigabit distinguishes market leaders. We call it the halo efect. Consumers BBC_May14.indd 42 5/29/14 9:17 AM

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