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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52 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | | MAY/JUNE 2017 COMMUNITY BROADBAND Choosing the Right Ownership Model Communities should look at all options for improving their broadband access. By Joel Mulder / eX 2 Technology B roadband touches almost every aspect of people's lives. People bank online, shop online, pay bills online, do homework online and work from home online. Yet many of those living in small, rural communities do not have access to the same high-speed internet services as those living in larger metropolitan cities. To help alleviate this digital divide, an increasing number of underserved and unserved rural municipalities are taking responsibility for building the infrastructure necessary to bring high-speed broadband networks to their communities. e town of Mount Washington sits in the far southwestern corner of Massachusetts. It is rural. It is a picturesque, peaceful spot where citizens and visitors enjoy the views and the tranquil quiet. As in many small communities, internet is generally unavailable, and cell service is sporadic at best. But though many other communities seek providers (or wait for incumbents) to build high-speed broadband networks in their towns, Mount Washington decided to take a different path. Its community leaders chose to build a town-owned broadband network delivering gigabit speeds to nearly 90 residences in the town of 145 people. Mount Washington is not alone. For example, Ammon, Idaho, a community of about 14,000, constructed a city-owned network – and did so without raising taxes. e network revived the local economy, and first responders can use the network in case of a school emergency, earning Ammon the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors "2016 Community Broadband Project of the Year." TAKING THE FIRST STEPS Similar stories continue to surface as more and more communities become aware of the advantages of owning the fourth utility (broadband). All too often, the first step a community takes when trying to improve its broadband connectivity is to seek a service provider or ask the incumbent provider(s) when fiber and high-speed services will come. Usually, the community accepts the incumbent's assurance that these services will come soon, but after a time, the realization hits that soon may mean never. MAKING DECISIONS Communities do have choices. Some try to entice new, unsubsidized broadband entrants with the attractiveness of their communities by issuing requests for information (RFIs) seeking partnerships with prospective service providers that would work with their communities to provide fiber-to-the-home connectivity. ese RFIs do not require community ownership of the infrastructure or capital investment by the communities. Instead, the communities aid service providers with permitting and access to community-owned assets. Universal access to advanced broadband services is imperative for economic growth, education, health care, quality of life and

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