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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OCTOBER 2017 | | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | 41 A WIN-WIN FOR GOOGLE AND THE CITY e deal enabled Google Fiber to start serving Huntsville faster and at a lower cost than if it had built out the network itself. At the Broad B and Communities Summit in April 2017, John Burchett, head of public policy for Google Access and Google Fiber, said, "It's a win-win for us and the city. ere's less capital up front for us, and the builds are much faster because they already have access to poles and rights-of-way and can do the make-ready faster than we can. ey have crews they can deploy. We've found they are able to build much faster than we can." Burchett added that other communities could use the same or similar approaches to attract Google or other providers. He said, "e more that communities can put in dark fiber, the more it speeds the whole thing up. At this point it's almost all about time. e sooner you can light up a person, the more the numbers start making sense." Recently, a Google Fiber spokesperson explained to Broad B and Communities , "By working with Huntsville Utilities and the city of Huntsville, we're able to bring more people access to ultra-high-speed internet, and we've been able to further the city's vision for a more connected community. Huntsville and its leaders are building a community energized by gigabit speeds. We are now able to help make their vision a reality. is city- led, long-term investment will allow both Google Fiber and future providers to more easily deliver ultra-fast internet to Huntsville residents." From the utility's point of view, locking in a 20-year revenue stream from the fiber asset enabled it to speed up its network deployment. e network will be built out in three years at a cost of about $70 million; the build might have been slower if the network were used only for utility and government purposes. And, of course, the city gets gigabit service for all its residents. THE HUNTSVILLE MODEL Leasing excess fiber from a utility grid network has become common. However, Huntsville's model has several unique features. Municipalities that lease fiber to third-party providers generally use one of two models: ey own only the fiber ring, or they own the entire network. Even where a third party builds the connections to the premises (as in Rio Blanco County, Colorado, whose network was profiled in the November- December 2016 issue), the municipality usually ends up owning all the fiber. Huntsville follows a third, middle- ground strategy: It builds fiber to the curb, installs a multiport service terminal (MST) that can serve several customers, and lets service providers build and own the final drops to the customer premises. is way, it can fund the network through electric rates without borrowing (all the infrastructure is used to operate the electric distribution system), it controls the buildout schedule to the various neighborhoods, but it does not have to get involved in customer connections. Google Fiber – or another provider – markets services to customers, secures permission for drops and installations, plugs its cables into the MSTs and gets customers connected. Daniel Kaufmann, a lawyer from Bradley Arant Boult Cummings who helped the city negotiate the lease, explains that the utility sets rate structures that apply to all lessees (its only other legal option would be to open the network to competitive bidding, which would be impractical). us, Google Fiber pays the same rate as any other retail service provider offering the same type of service. A point-to-point fiber lease, such as a provider might want to serve a financial or research institution, would fall under a different category and pay a different rate, as would a low-volume lease. Huntsville, Alabama, has been the Rocket City for years. Now it's a Gig City.

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