Broadband Communities

AUG-SEP 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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20 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | | AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017 FTTH DEPLOYMENT Walsh: A New Community Built Around Fiber A master-planned community in Fort Worth aims to be a center of innovation. By Masha Zager / Broadband Communities T welve miles from downtown Fort Worth, Texas, a new community is rising from the ground. Walsh, named for the family that owned the land, is inside the Fort Worth city limits, but at 7,200 acres (about half the size of Manhattan), it is large enough to be a town. In fact, it is the largest residential community being built close to a U.S. downtown area. Home builders broke ground at Walsh in fall 2016, presales began in early 2017, and the first homeowners moved in during July. A market, a fitness center, a co-working space and the park across from an elementary school are in various stages of construction. More than a master-planned community, Walsh is intended to be a functioning, thriving neighborhood that will eventually attract 50,000 residents across a range of ages and income levels. It will include office and retail space, medical facilities, restaurants and entertainment within walking distance of residents' homes. e plans include all the amenities one would expect – pools, parks, athletic facilities, food trucks, nature trails – as well as some unexpected ones, such as baseline 2 Gbps internet access included in the homeowners association fees and an upgrade to 10 Gbps for less than $200 per month. (e developer has already had at least one inquiry about the 10 Gbps service.) THE FOURTH UTILITY "Our goal is for Walsh to become a new center of innovation for Texas and the nation," explains Tony Ruggeri, co-CEO of Republic Property Group (RPG), the developer. He regards internet connectivity as "a fourth utility, requiring the same weight as a community's need for reliable water, gas and electricity." Technology has been central to the developer's vision from the get-go. Nearly two years before the first shovel hit the ground, RPG met with a technology solutions provider, Florida-based Frog, to brainstorm about how technology could enhance the new community. "We started with whiteboarding sessions," explains Michael Voll, CEO of Frog. "We made a list of half a dozen to a dozen core initiatives, such as health care, education, entertainment, sports, technology. … en we took technology out of the list, wrote it across the bottom of the list and layered the other things on top." Voll adds, "ere's a very small audience that really values technology for itself. Other people want such things as a great environment for their kids. If it's built right, the technology will be seamless and invisible, the great community assets will be even better and the community will be the best place for people to live." Technology is an afterthought in many new communities, Voll points out. Often, connectivity providers are brought in late in the game, and "they bring whatever they bring." But in the case of Walsh, the Walsh family and RPG were planning for the long term, and they had the foresight to recognize that technology would be critical to any future plans. "Decades

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