Broadband is the new foundation of economic viability.
Broadband is the new foundation of economic viability
Economic vitality is increasingly dependent on the quality of a community’s broadband infrastructure. Simply stated, those communities with a fiber access infrastructure are prepared to compete in the future-those without fiber are at a competitive disadvantage. Communities are actively working with private sector partners and local service providers to ensure they have the fast highways of the future. In some cases the private sector is forming partnerships with these communities and in others the community is taking things in to their own hands, building out their own fiber infrastructure.
Ask a community would you rather have 100 companies with 5 employees each or a single company with 500 employees. The concept of Economic Gardening reflects the ability of the community to generate its own economic development by helping nurture the businesses and entrepreneurs already in the community. Fiber infrastructure is critical to attracting any new company interested in moving to a community, but it’s even more important in helping existing businesses to grow. Whenever communities compete for relocating businesses their chances of winning are much like a lottery. The winner is happy, the losers are not. By taking responsibility for their own decisions and their own growth, communities give themselves a better chance of being the winners.
Leveraging community assets
Before embarking on a fiber network, the community needs to talk with its incumbent service providers about their goals and to see what the incumbents may be planning for their community. If the community decides to move forward an assessment of the community’s assets that can be leveraged and a feasibility study are recommended. There are a number of reputable consulting firms that work with communities at this stage of the process. There are also excellent resources on the planning and community support level, such as the Community Toolkit available from the FTTH Council www.FTTHcouncil.org and Craig’s Settles free book titled “Building the Gigabit City” (see link to download on the right).
Many communities find that they already have many key assets, particularly if they already own their own electric utility. Even communities that don’t own their own electric utility may have fiber connecting city buildings, conduit or easements that can be leveraged.
Ever since Google Fiber announced its plan to build Gigabit cities, communities have been actively working to become a Gigabit Community. Calix currently has over 100 service providers offering a residential Gigabit service, including many municipalities. These municipalities are using their Gigabit service to differentiate the community to businesses and residents.
Several of Calix’ Gigabit cities have recently been featured in case studies highlighting their successful deployments. Sandy, OR was the first Gigabit community in Oregon (LINK to Sandy article in Broadband Communities magazine or Sandy video) and achieved a 60% take rate in its first year of deployment. Sebewaing, MI leveraged its city owned electric utility to become the first Gigabit city in Michigan (LINK to OSP magazine article).
Many communities will determine that they do not have the resources or desire to build their own fiber network. There are many examples of communities partnering with a private entity to get its citizens and businesses the broadband they need. Always check with your existing incumbent service provider to see what they may be willing to do in terms of bringing better broadband to the community. If they are not willing to invest in fiber, then there may be other service providers who are willing to build and operate a Gigabit network in your community. A good example of this approach was Powell, Wyoming that partnered with TCT, a small operator who did not serve the Powell community before the fiber build.
In other cases, communities have invested in the fiber infrastructure and partnered with a private entity to operate the network. For example, Winchester, Maryland will own the fiber infrastructure in their community, but Ting Fiber Internet will be the network operator and a service provider.
Download Calix Case Studies of Russellville, KY and Longmont, CO:
Read Craig Settles’ new edition of Building the Gigabit City