Broadband Communities

OCT 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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32 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | | OCTOBER 2017 COMMUNITY BROADBAND Slow and Steady Wins the Fiber Race Three communities find success in incremental fiber network builds. By H. Trostle / Institute for Local Self-Reliance A ny city can improve its connectivity without breaking the bank – but it takes foresight, planning and relationships. From a small town of 6,000 to a city of more than 160,000, municipalities across the country have built state-of-the-art fiber optic infrastructure with common sense, creative financing and community support. Holland, Michigan; Eugene, Oregon; and Erwin, Tennessee, provide blueprints for successful incremental approaches to municipal fiber optic networks. HOLLAND, MICHIGAN Population: 33,543 (2016 est.) Area: 17.35 square miles Claim to Fame: Tulips "One of our key strategies is [that]we are building fiber for our community. Does our community want it or not? We're not going to build fiber to the community if [people] say, 'You know what? We're good.' You need to have that relationship with your community. You need to be open." – Pete Hoffswell, Holland Broadband Services Manager On the shores of Lake Michigan, what began as a Dutch outpost is now a tourist town of 30,000 that has spent more than 20 years steadily building out a fiber network. e state of Michigan placed some restrictions on building municipal networks in 2005, but Holland was grandfathered in. e city's municipal electric utility had provided wholesale internet service to some businesses since the 1990s. Holland Board of Public Works (BPW) built its first fiber optic loop in 1992 to better manage its electric and water systems by remotely operating the electric switches and water pumps. e loop was only 17 miles of 48-count fiber optic line, but it provided the foundation for later development. For years, when a property owner wanted to connect a building to the network, BPW charged the owner the total cost of the new build up front. is connection fee of $2,000 limited the number of customers. Because BPW thought more local businesses could benefit from the network, it introduced a new cost recovery model in 2013 – applying the revenues it expected to earn from the new connection toward the build cost. By building out carefully at first and managing its finances well, BPW was able to grow the system quickly. By the end of 2016, the city had at its disposal 76 miles of fiber backbone with more than 150 total route miles and 288-count fiber. Six small ISPs lease dark fiber from the city for a monthly fee of just over $.01 per foot per strand. e city also offers an active Ethernet service for large businesses. Because the network was built out at their request, it mostly reaches large commercial customers today. However, in the summer of 2017, Holland launched a new pilot project aimed at residential and small business subscribers – a GPON that covers 158 buildings and 450 potential customers. For this service, BPW has decided to offer services directly but is still designing the network to be open access in the future. A municipal utility needs the community to build and maintain support for projects of this kind. In this case, the Holland Fiber group urged

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