Broadband Communities

MAR-APR 2018

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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M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 8 | w w w. b r o a d b a n d c o m m u n i t i e s . c o m | B R O A D B A N D C O M M U N I T I E S | 1 9 pilot project. In 2015, using internal resources, WG+E constructed a gigabit passive optical network (GPON) to serve a 250-customer area that included both residential and commercial passings. Rising to the challenge of validating the market research and meeting deadlines, the utility completed the project on time and within budget. "e success of the pilot showed us that we could move ahead incrementally and prove the success of our business plan at each step along the way," says Dan Howard, general manager of WG+E. In 2016, building upon that success, the MLB authorized additional investment to construct another nine fiberhoods, or service areas, bringing the total number of homes passed to more than 2,000. Once again, the project proved successful. e creation of the business plan and the success of the pilots eventually paved the way for the Westfield City Council to approve a $15 million bond in February 2017. e bond and amortization schedule are the sole responsibility of WG+E through its Whip City Fiber (WCF) business unit. "We see the bond approval as a much-needed vision of the future and how technology will help continue to revitalize the economy here in Westfield," says Aaron Bean, operations manager at WG+E/WCF. "We want to be known as a 'gig friendly city' open to new technologies and future growth. We know and understand that gigabit- speed infrastructure is critical to the future, and we want to be ready." STRATEGY AND EXECUTION WG+E realized that building an FTTH network in an established cable community would be no easy task. Competing against well-known, established national communications companies to provide internet and phone service to the citizens of Westfield was a daunting challenge. WG+E met this challenge by establishing a comprehensive strategic plan built upon specific, actionable goals; maintaining realistic timelines; and, most important, serving its ratepayers with the highest- quality product. e utility hit the high-speed highway running, using technologies and partners it developed during the pilot program. e aggressive rollout plan aimed to pass 70 percent of the city's households by the end of 2018. is schedule included constructing a fiber backbone that linked critical technology hubs, constructing three technology hubs in strategic locations and partnering with vendors for service drops and inside wiring for homes. EVALUATING TECHNOLOGY e WG+E team knew that launching this high-tech business would require having the right operational and billing support technology partners in place. An agile approach to technology enablement could be a differentiator when competing with existing providers. e team sought a partner whose industry experience, technology platform and business culture aligned with these goals. WG+E turned to SpryPoint, a Canada-based utility software provider. SpryPoint already provided WG+E with several cloud solutions and business consulting services focused on customer service and operations for the gas and electric side of the business. e SpryPoint team brought a unique mix of experience and technology, with decades of experience supporting working municipal electric and gas utilities as well as broadband organizations. It brought a Dan Howard, general manager of Westfield Gas + Electric and Whip City Fiber, among spools of fiber optic cable

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