Broadband Communities

MAY-JUN 2012

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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SUMMIT COVERAGE Once the neighbors find out they can get this service, everyone is calling in. it. Once a neighbor or two has the ser- vice, it really takes off. Vince Tyson: We're not selling tech- nology; we're selling to meet a need of customers. People want more, and sometimes they make the assumption that, living in a rural area, they can't get it, and they don't even ask. Tey're surprised when they find out what we're doing or that they're next on the list to get fiber in a particular area. Casey Quint: We do a lot of simi- lar things, but really our marketing is the technicians out in the field or out in the community at events. We're a small enough community that, once the neighbors find out they can get this ser- vice, everyone in the area is calling in. Once we hooked up one person just to test things out, and we had 30 calls the next day wanting our service. Q: In this expanding world of wireless, does fiber still have a position in your thinking? Vince Tyson: I'm a big believer in wire- less. Customers want mobility. Tey've already shown us that. On the voice side, people will pick a wireless phone over a wired phone any day. I believe most companies, if they're not in the wireless business, really ought to look at how they can get into that business be- cause that's what consumers want. However, when you look at the services offered for fixed wireless and at the data caps, it suggests that every company has spectrum constraints. So a fiber network complements a wireless network. Te two work hand in hand. You can't be wireless only, and you can't be wired only. We have to have services that differ- entiate us from the competitors, and the way you do that is to have a service that is blended together. We're not in the business of selling a POTS line anymore or DSL. What we should be selling is communications, information and en- tertainment. Ron Ellis: I have to agree with that. You definitely need Wi-Fi in the house. You should be able to walk in from outside and have a call automatically transfer over to your Wi-Fi inside, offloading data traffic from the wireless networks. We've got several fiber-to-the-tower contracts with wireless providers. Tey're getting 50 Mbps out to the tow- ers, but when you divide out your access points and divide out your overhead and everything else, there just isn't the Vince Tyson, Chief Operating Officer, Plateau Telephone Vince Tyson had years of experience deploying fiber in the frozen tundra for Paul Bunyan Telephone of Bemidji, Minn., and with CHR Solutions and Ragland Engineering. Today, managing the operations of Plateau, a communications company in eastern New Mexico that provides wireless and wireline ser- vices throughout a 50,000-square-mile region, he is responsible for a network that runs from Amarillo to Lubik to Albuquerque and will now be extended to El Paso and other parts of the Southwest. With the help of an ARRA middle-mile grant, the organization is now investing in its transport network. Tyson says, "In the transport side of the business, everything is migrating to Ethernet. Fiber is really the only technology that will provide the services our customers want, and we're starting to work with some large cell phone companies with backhaul. Everybody wants to go to higher capacities, and Ethernet IP is the best technology for that. We're getting out to the more rural areas [where the network] passes fairly few people, so the economics are a challenge. We've hired our own construction crew in-house to start chipping away at 150 to 250 miles per year. It'll probably be a 20-year project to reach those last customers, but we're just going to fund it out of cash flow and keep working at it until eventually we get every member over to fiber." 84 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | | MAY/JUNE 2012 bandwidth. It still needs to be fiber to the home, in my opinion. Q. As we wrap up today's program, could you provide a quick tip or lesson learned – something you didn't know when you started, but that our audience should know as they leave the room? Casey Quint: We were lucky deploying when we did because we got to listen to a lot of people. I went to a lot of com- panies and looked at their deployments. Make sure to go to every company you can and see how they're doing things, and that will help you do it as well. Ron Ellis: One thing we look at in a ru- ral area: If we get a cut, what can we fix in a day's time? Our biggest fiber [cable] is our 288. We may have multiple 288s getting out to a rural area, but that's what we base our design on because I know that if we send two splicers there, within a 24-hour window we can have every customer back in service. Vince Tyson: Keep your economics analytical. Don't let fear and emotions drive design. Work with other compa- nies, look at alternatives. Fiber to the home is the technology of the future. Most people would say that, 50 years from now, copper is not going to be do- ing what our customers want to have. Te question is, when are you going to make the transition and how can you do it in a way that makes sense for your business? Start now so you have time to do what's important, rather than wait- ing until you have to do it. Y

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