open access

Content tagged with "open access"

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Allegan County Michigan Open Access Fiber Network Gets $30 Million Grant Infusion

Allegan County, Michigan will soon receive a $30 million state grant to finalize the deployment of a new open access, carrier-neutral fiber network. The end result will bring overdue competition – and affordable multi-gigabit fiber access – to long neglected communities by 2025.

The $30 million award is part of Michigan’s $238 million Realizing Opportunity with Broadband Infrastructure Networks (ROBIN) grant program, made possible by 2021’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the resulting Capital Projects Fund.

123NET was chosen by Allegan County in late 2021 to help spearhead the Allegan County Broadband Project. The public-private partnership will bring access to more than 10,000 Allegan County residents either underserved or completely unserved by regional telecom giants, spread out across 1,000 square miles.

123NET and Allegan County had already committed to contributing $17.5 million for the construction of the network, with the county’s share coming from earlier ARPA awards.

123Net logo

"We are pleased to be selected as a recipient of the Michigan ROBIN Grant Funding. This recognition validates the hard work and dedication that both we and Allegan County have put into this Project,” Dan Irvin, CEO of 123NET said of the award. “We look forward to partnering with additional communities throughout Michigan in a combined effort to make this state the best connected on the planet."

Colorado Springs Utility Fiber Deployment Moves Into Second Phase

Colorado Springs, Colorado and its city-owned utility have begun construction on the second phase of a promising open access fiber optic network that should bring affordable fiber broadband to the city of half a million residents.

Construction of the network by Springs Utilities began in the first region in September 2022, shortly after the city-owned utility struck a 25-year lease agreement with Ting to be the network anchor tenant. Once completed, the network aims to deliver multi-gigabit service to roughly 200,000 homes, businesses, and city anchor institutions.

Local residents can pre-order service via the Ting website, but the company has yet to announce pricing or service tiers for its Colorado Springs deployment.

Brian Wortinger, Manager of fiber optics and telecommunications for Springs Utilities, told ILSR that the first phase of deployment passed 21,000 homes in the first fiber hut reason.

“Take rate is not a consideration for us, as we will lease 100 percent of the addresses to our anchor tenant, Ting Internet,” Wortinger said when asked about subscriber interest. “Their degree of success in obtaining customers has no impact on the revenues that we will generate through our dark fiber lease with them or any other tenant.”

The first phase of the network construction began in September of 2022, resulting in 225 new fiber route miles between I-25 and North Powers Boulevard. The second phase of the deployment began in June, and is focusing on the Rockrimmon neighborhood in Northwest Colorado Springs across I-25.

Colorado Springs network construction map

Overall, project managers say they are only slightly behind their original projected schedule.

The Public Utility District Taking on the Olympic Peninsula - Episode 558 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Will O'Donnell, Broadband and Communications Director at Jefferson County Public Utility District in Washington State, to talk about the Herculean task facing the PUD: how to deploy an open access fiber network to the utility's 21,000 meters in some of the least-dense parts of the state. 

It's a project that will likely cost more than $200 million, but Jefferson County PUD is getting started now. It's using $50 million to reach the first 4,000 households over the next few years, covering miles of coastline and forest from the Hood Canal and Dabob Bay across the peninsula to the Pacific Ocean. Will shares how the combination of federal and state funding, as well as recent legislative changes freeing the PUDs up to offer retail broadband service, turned around local leadership since a 2019 study that showed intractable barriers to success. Now, Jefferson County is moving full-steam ahead. Construction begins later this year, and the PUD plans to operate as an Internet Service Provider (ISP) on the network alongside others. The secret sauce to keeping costs down and being successful? Using tried-and-true, conservative deployment models (at least at first), and a retail plan with managed Wi-Fi at its core to keep costs low and truck rolls to a minimum. 

Residents are already clamoring for the service.

This show is 25 minutes long and can be played on this page or via Apple Podcasts or the tool of your choice using this feed

Transcript below.

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index. See other podcasts from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance here.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

Demand Driven by the People in Kitsap County, Washington - Episode 557 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

Kitsap Public Utility District (KPUD) provides water, wastewater, and Internet service on Bainbridge Island and the neighboring peninsula in the Puget Sound in Washington state. It began building an open access fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network in 2016 to address decades of poor DSL service as the only option offered by the private marketplace. Today, the Kitsap fiber network has grown to 500 route-miles and offers service to more than 1,600 premises via almost a dozen ISPs with the help of a growing team. 

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by three members of that team: Allison Cotner (Telecom, Business, and Projects Manager), Stephanie Hall (Telecom, Business Development, and Community Relations Specialist), and Thomas Schreyer (Network Engineer). They share the building momentum in Kitsap County, driven by ever-increasing demand by residents and businesses for the publicly owned fiber network. 

Christopher learns more Kitsap's innovation in using Local Utility Districts to drive expansion, which allows small groups of homes to petition KPUD to extend its network to their neighborhood. More than 50 have formed so far. He also hears about the flexible financing mechanisms the PUD and local government have created for households to foster expansion, and how happy residents are to see trucks in the area. Increased revenue has driven more investment in infrastructure to reach new households and new LUDs, which has meant more and more work for Stephanie and Thomas as they continue to build relationships with the local chamber of commerce and make sure that the network can sustain that growth far into the future.

Watch the video below to learn more about the expanding KPUD Fiber.

Remote video URL

This show is 29 minutes long and can be played on this page or via Apple Podcasts or the tool of your choice using this feed

Transcript below.

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index. See other podcasts from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance here.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

Eagle, Idaho Poised to Build Open Access Fiber Network as Nearby Communities Forge Ahead on Similar Projects

Inspired by Ammon, Idaho’s heralded open-access fiber network, the city of Eagle, located in the southwestern part of the state and home to 32,000 residents, is now soaring ahead with building its own open-access fiber network to connect city facilities and bring quality broadband to residents and businesses.

Eagle’s low density makes it expensive to connect, and as a result, the city has suffered from a lack of investment from private broadband providers. This has left residents – many of whom work from home or homeschool their children – with limited and antiquated options. But Eagle Mayor Jason Pierce wasn’t ready to hand over the city’s connectivity future to the big incumbents.

He explained to ILSR how Ammon’s “successful model” was the inspiration for Eagle and other cities across the Gem State to embark on a mission to provide city-wide connectivity and competition in areas underserved by the big incumbents.

“Cities were using [American Rescue Plan Act] ARPA dollars to help supplement […] private companies. We didn’t think that was the proper way to [go]. Federal dollars are the people’s money, they should own whatever we use it for. We need to be going after [public funding] to get [our residents’] tax dollars back into our communities.”

The open access network will give small local providers a chance to go into areas that it would not have previously made financial sense for them to serve. With the infrastructure already in place though, these companies will be able to enter the market and offer competition.

After Years of Talk, Cambridge, MA is Now Taking Serious Look at Municipal Broadband

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, digital equity advocates and city leaders have been debating the idea of building a citywide municipal fiber network for years now, mostly over whether the estimated $150 to $200 million it would cost to build the network would be worth it.

In a tech-savvy city, home to Harvard and MIT, the former city manager was resistant to a serious inquiry into municipal broadband. He retired last summer. But before he left, he relented on the broadband question – under pressure from city councilors and a local citizen group advocating for municipal broadband, Upgrade Cambridge.

Cambridge Feasibility Study coversheet

With many residents weary of being held hostage to the whims and high cost of service from the monopoly provider in town (Comcast), which currently controls 80 percent of the city’s market, in 2021 the city hired the well-regarded Maryland-based consulting firm CTC Technology & Energy to conduct a thorough feasibility study. Now, with a new supportive city manager in office, city leaders have agreed to continue to investigate the options laid out in the recently published study.

‘Significant Public Support’ Even If It Requires Tax Money

Filling in Connectivity Gaps with Open Access Fiber - Episode 554 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher speaks with Keith Quarles, President and CFO of A2D, a fiber-based, open access competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC). A2D stands for ‘Analog to Digital,’ and as Keith explains, represents the infrastructure transition from analog to digital communications.

Chris and Keith discuss A2D’s business model, which focuses on filling in the gaps – serving communities where connectivity is unaffordable or the incumbent has chosen not to upgrade its infrastructure. Keith explains how many gaps still exist, even after the influx of federal funding for broadband. A2D takes a creative approach to building out fiber backbones in these pockets, which involves connecting existing ecosystems like municipalities, school systems, and electric membership corporations (Georgia’s equivalent of electric cooperatives). Keith’s background in real-estate development and training in civil engineering, along with the backgrounds of his three business partners who are also engineers by trade, informs A2D’s strategy and willingness to "just figure things out."

This show is 19 minutes long and can be played on this page or via Apple Podcasts or the tool of your choice using this feed

Transcript below.

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index. See other podcasts from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance here.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

Quincy, MA Moves Full Speed Ahead On City Owned Open Access Fiber Plan

Quincy, Massachusetts is moving full speed ahead on a long-percolating plan to bring faster and more reliable broadband to a community long neglected by regional telecom monopolies.

If successful, the resulting open access fiber network should dramatically boost competitive options in the city, driving down costs for what many view as an essential utility.

After five years of debate and planning, Quincy officials say they’re getting closer to launching a city owned open access fiber network that will provide a backbone for city services, as well as a major infusion of long overdue broadband competition citywide.

Quincy Ward 3 Councilor Ian Cain told ISLR that the city is planning to launch trial deployments in Merrymount and Quincy Point during the next few months. The city has long worked with Entrypoint networks as a technical consultant and project financial planner, and city officials are expecting an engineering and feasibility study from Tilson within a matter of weeks.

RFP Coming Soon

“We're intending to bring the request for financing before the council before the end of session, which is at the end of June,” Cain said.

"We'll be putting out an RFP for the open access component of the project soon as well. We hope to fund the project through the city council before the summer, and then ideally we would start construction in the fall."

The initial pilot project will be funded by a general obligation bond. City leaders stated Merrymount and Quincy Point were selected both with an eye on socioeconomic diversity, and because the city was certain they’d see a relatively high adoption rate.

"Quincy Point in particular has a lot of economic and cultural diversity, and I think that's really important to emphasize as we move forward," Ward 2 City Councilor Anthony Andronico said of the city’s effort. "Quincy Point and Merrymount will have an opportunity to see what works with this program, what we can improve upon and help expand it to the whole city.”

Realizing Ambitions of Open Access in Marin County, California

Creative efforts are underway in Marin County, California to bring fiber connectivity to underserved pockets of the community and eventually the whole area. Digital Marin, currently housed within the county’s Information Services and Technology Department, is coordinating the project, and is leaning towards a municipally-owned, open-access solution modeled after Ammon’s standout network in Idaho.

Just across the Golden Gate Strait from San Francisco, Marin County is home to about 265,000 residents, as well as the Muir Woods National Monument, a County Civic Center designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and nearly 73 miles of coastal trail. Despite largely being considered an urban county, Marin also includes suburban and rural areas with 40 percent of the county classified as protected park land.

When it comes to Internet connectivity, the area is peppered with what Marin County resident and Digital Marin Executive Steering Committee member, Bruce Vogen, calls “donut holes of high-quality Internet access.” An unknown provider built a DSL network in the region many years ago and then Comcast later bought and inherited the antiquated infrastructure. Soon after, AT&T entered the market but selected only the most profitable neighborhoods to serve. All 90,000 of the county’s urban households can access the Internet through Comcast, but just 20,000 of these homes have access to the archipelago of AT&T’s fiber network. In any case, Marin’s urban areas are either subject to monopoly or duopoly market control. It has long been apparent there is a digital divide in Marin County, but it wasn’t until the 2022 FCC maps were released that the contours of this divide came into focus.

Lewis County Pushes Forward with Open Access Fiber Plan

Lewis County, Washington and the Lewis County Public Utility District (PUD) are making progress with their plan to deploy an open access fiber network that should dramatically boost broadband competition—and lower prices—county wide by 2026.

In November 2019, Lewis County PUD received a $50,000 grant from the Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) to study the county’s broadband shortcomings and determine whether taking direct action to address them made sense. In early 2020, the PUD formed the Lewis County Broadband Action Team (BAT) to further study community needs.

Those inquiries found what most U.S. communities know too well: concentrated monopolization had left county residents overpaying for substandard, expensive, and spotty broadband access unsuitable for modern living.

In response, the Lewis County PUD announced in 2021 it would be building an 134-mile-long fiber backbone and open access fiber network for around $104 million. Around $23.5 million of that total will be paid for by a recently awarded grant by the Washington State Department of Commerce, itself made possible by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).