Broadband Communities

MAY-JUN 2017

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 | | MAY/JUNE 2017 SUMMIT COVERAGE A View From the Summit A BBC Staff Report I n the United States, most broadband networks are vertically integrated: e entity that builds and owns a network delivers services to that network's customers. Or, if the network owner is not an experienced service provider, it delegates that task to a hand- picked partner. But there have always been exceptions to the rule. Some network owners, private and public, believe strongly that their customers should have a choice of service providers, and they make their networks "open access." Some are legally bound to allow multiple providers to use their networks. In a few cases, network owners both support open access and are required to provide it. In general, open access is more successful when network owners embrace the concept than when it is forced upon them. Both voluntary and involuntary open-access networks have become more common in the last few years. As a result, network owners have experimented with a variety of arrangements and learned more about what makes open access succeed or fail. In Summit 2017, a number of sessions touched directly or indirectly on issues of open access. Following are highlights of the discussions of this topic. MUNICIPAL NETWORKS Andrew Cohill, a consultant with long experience in planning, designing and operating open-access networks, explained that because open access enables providers to share infrastructure, it promotes competition and choice while saving construction costs. "It's not a socialist plot to destroy the economy," he quipped, adding that incumbent providers could actually benefit by joining open-access networks. Cohill said open-access networks are less likely than other municipal networks to attract political opposition: "To my knowledge, no open- access network has ever been sued. Open access deflects complaints to legislators." at's because open-access networks are similar in concept to roads and other basic infrastructure that communities build and private companies use. Brit Fontenot of the city of Bozeman, Montana, listed some of the benefits an open- access network had brought to Bozeman. e city created Bozeman Fiber as a not-for-profit agency to run the network, and retail service providers offer services on it. Because there is no capital barrier to entry for providers, they compete on price and quality. Customers can obtain higher speeds at lower costs, along with better service and redundancy. e Kitsap Public Utility District (KPUD) in Kitsap County, Washington, is obliged by state law to offer open access to service providers. After connecting schools, libraries, government offices, first responder buildings and major medical facilities with fiber, KPUD is embarking on a project to build fiber to all homes in the district. Paul Avis, the superintendent of telecom, said the district would expand its network "by any means necessary." He added, "Just the threat of KPUD providing fiber has caused incumbents to Open Access in Local, State and MDU Networks At the 2017 Broad B and Communities Summit, held in Dallas in May, fiber deployers shared their experiences and vendors displayed their new technology.

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