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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58 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | | MAY/JUNE 2017 MAPPING Fiber Mapping Supports Network Growth How should a small, agile fiber overbuilder decide where to expand next? By Masha Zager / Broadband Communities G reat Works Internet (GWI) is a small but fast-growing internet service provider in Maine. ough it began in the 1990s as a dial-up provider and then leased copper infrastructure to provide DSL service – it still offers DSL and even dial-up in some areas – its current business model, and the source of its growth, is as a fiber overbuilder. GWI's fiber network serves thousands of commercial premises throughout Maine; at the same time, it is working with a number of small cities and towns to build municipal fiber networks through creative partnerships. For example, in South Portland, GWI committed to a citywide fiber build because the city government agreed to be the anchor tenant. In Sanford, GWI will operate and provide services on an open-access municipal network, and in Islesboro, it will be the operator of and sole service provider on a municipal network. e secret to GWI's success lies in building fiber in the right places – that is, where it can make a business case. To do this, it must be able to quickly and accurately predict the costs of reaching premises with fiber and the revenues from delivering services. at, in turn, takes a lot of data, as well as the capacity to analyze that data. For several years, GWI worked closely with a mapping and GIS consultant, NBT Solutions, located in nearby Portland. Fletcher Kittredge, CEO of GWI, explains, "We would ask them for one-off data sets, such as the demographics of a town or the locations of all the businesses within half a mile of a fiber route. is was a niche that no one else was filling." But as useful as he found NBT's services, Kittredge wanted the flexibility to compare multiple scenarios and answer any question at any time – and that required his engineers to have access to mapping software. GWI began looking for web-based software that was easy to use, could interface easily with any external data set and had a pricing model suitable for small providers. Specifically, GWI wanted software that was priced so all departments could use it – not just engineering but also staff assigned to network inventory, planning, design, marketing, qualification, intelligence and reporting. ough the software model GWI sought was becoming standard in other industries, no fiber mapping programs of that sort were yet available. So Kittredge began talking to NBT about developing the software his company needed. NBT was aware from its work with other small ISPs that challenges with network A fiber network deployer needs to forecast the costs of reaching premises with fiber and the revenues from delivering services to those premises.

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