Broadband Communities

OCT 2015

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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18 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | | OCTOBER 2015 FTTH DEPLOYMENT Gigabit Service in Small Rural Towns Business and community leaders in small-town Michigan ofer insights into the challenges and opportunities of becoming gigabit communities. By Joe Ross and Jessica Steeley / Communications & Research Inc. R ecently, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler complained that most Americans lack real choices for high-speed broadband service. However, some small Midwestern markets are fnding new ways to increase both speeds and choices. Important solutions can be learned from regional network providers, small-market municipalities and small-business leaders. Teir goal is to have easily accessible broadband, despite the roadblocks they have experienced. Connect Michigan, a nonproft Internet think tank working to bring broadband to Michigan, is helping communities build broadband networks in rural areas. It is getting help from providers such as ACD, a fber Internet and phone provider located in Lansing, Mich., that serves the Midwest. ACD was a participant in the REACH-3MC consortium, which in 2010 was awarded federal stimulus funding to build a 955-mile fber optic backbone network across Michigan. Tis middle-mile network made it more economical for ACD and others to expand broadband service to rural and underserved communities in Michigan. In Michigan, as in much of the United States, the path to becoming a gigabit community requires creative thinking. A core challenge for public and private sector leaders is to develop networks that can serve government, residential and business customers. One best practice that has emerged is to allow multiple network providers to be proftable, ensuring the system's future success. (ACD is unusual among private network operators in that it encourages multiple providers to serve customers on its networks.) Another best practice is for cities to facilitate operators' building fber. "To attract providers, municipal ofcials need to streamline their permitting processes, allowing tech frms to quickly build out these next-generation broadband networks. Time is money in this race," says Kevin Schoen, CEO of ACD. Te cities of Dowagiac, Zeeland, Eaton Rapids and Hillsdale – all located in southern Michigan and all with populations between 5,000 and 9,000 – recently collaborated with ACD to implement fber broadband in their communities. Tese cities are all on the path to implementing citywide fber broadband. Currently, fber is available to businesses, schools and utility plants; within a year, residents will start to receive fber connections as well. Municipal and business leaders in the four cities agree that having fber networks gives them a competitive advantage. Zeeland jumped to the head of the broadband race after ACD expanded the city's fber network and installed a distributed antenna system. ZBx Technology, a Zeeland technology company, will become one of the frst businesses connected to the network. ZBx, which is now an agent for ACD, expects to increase the speed and reliability of its communication with its customers once they are connected to the same network. "With ACD's fber, we'll be able to connect local residents and businesses directly to the backbone of the Internet, giving them world- class speeds, and we'll be able to better ofer

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