Tag: "FTTH"

Posted November 28, 2022 by Karl Bode

Allegan County, Michigan is moving forward with an ambitious new plan to bring affordable fiber broadband to 12,000 unserved addresses across the county. The project will be in partnership with Southfield, Michigan based 123NET, made possible in large part due to more than $17.7 million in county American Rescue Plan Act funds.

“123NET has proposed a fiber to the home proposal to approximately 12,000 addresses of residents who don’t have access to 100 Mbps (Megabit per second) download fixed service,” Allegan County Broadband Project Manager Jill Dunham told ISLR. 

According to the county’s website, the Allegan County broadband Internet access project first began when the county commission approved a resolution to form a Broadband Action Workgroup, which started meeting back on August 8, 2021.

The county has since constructed a four-part broadband expansion plan that promises to deliver 12,000 unserved addresses affordable fiber connectivity providing at least 100 Mbps downstream and 25 Mbps upstream, now effectively the standard in federally subsidized new broadband deployments.  

According to the county, the path toward breaking ground involves ensuring Rescue Plan fund eligibility, hiring a project lead, bringing in additional project partners and other outside advisors, gathering data to ensure project goals will be met, and then putting it all together to implement plans for increased accessibility. 

On Thursday, November 10, county leaders announced they had awarded the contract to 123NET, which is also partnering with the city of Detroit to construct an open access fiber network. The company’s other deployments provide fiber speeds up to 6 Gigabits per second (Gbps) without usage caps. 

11 different companies applied for the Allegan county bid, with 123NET being chosen by three county employees and three members of the Broadband Action workgroup. 

As with 123NET’s Detroit effort, the Allegan county network is slated to be open access, drawing numerous ISPs into much-...

Read more
Posted November 18, 2022 by Karl Bode

The Washington Island Electric Cooperative is preparing to deliver affordable fiber broadband access to long-neglected communities across Washington Island, Wisconsin. The first subscribers are expected to receive service sometime later this month, and the entire island is slated to be upgraded sometime around 2027.

With the cooperative partnering with Quantum Technologies on the fiber deployment, which began in April of 2021 and is expected to be finished by 2027, the first phase will connect key anchor institutions like the police department, schools, town hall, and the region’s visitor centers.

Currently, a single wireless microwave tower connects all island broadband, as locals painfully discovered during a nine-day 2019 outage. As members of the Washington Island Electric Cooperative await the new service, the only options available now are through Centurylink, Frontier DSL, traditional satellite, or next-gen satellite service like Starlink (assuming island residents can even get the service and afford its first month $710 service charge). 

Obtaining better island connectivity has been a long standing battle. The island had flirted with broadband over powerline (BPL) broadband tech, but the technology’s inherent interference issues — and a series of tornadoes that ravaged the area in 2011 — caused the ISP providing the service, Broadband Electric Communications (IBEC), to shut down operations in 2012

Washington Island Electric Cooperative aims to connect roughly 225 homes or so a year on the 125 square mile island until the project is completed in 2027. Once completed, the island’s approximately 700 local residents will have access to symmetrical speeds of 100 Megabits per second (Mbps) for $59.95 a month, and symmetrical speeds of 1 Gigabit per second for upload/download speeds of 100 megabytes per second for $89.95 a month.

“These are not ‘teaser’ rates and should remain stable so...

Read more
Posted November 10, 2022 by Sean Gonsalves

In an economy where inflation seems to be everywhere, Fairlawn, Ohio residents are getting a bit of welcome news.

Subscribers to FairlawnGig – Fairlawn, Ohio’s municipal broadband network – are being upgraded to new service levels as the city-owned network bumps up speeds and slashes prices to make its fiber Internet service faster, and even more affordable.

Earlier this week, FairlawnGig announced that subscribers who had been getting Fairlawn’s basic service tier of symmetrical 300 Megabits per second (Mbps) were being upgraded to symmetrical gig speed service – for the exact same price of $55/month.

FairlawnGig also announced that subscribers who had previously been getting gig speed service will see their bills drop down to $55/month instead of the $75/month they had been paying. Meanwhile, subscribers who were getting 2.5 Gigabits per second (Gbps) for $150/month will now be upgraded to a symmetrical 5 Gbps tier, and see their price drop to $100/month.

“That was always the plan from the very beginning,” the City of Fairlawn’s Public Service Director Ernie Staten told ILSR this week.

We have been striving at all times to bring the greatest speeds and to bring prices down. We have made it where we have done well enough financially to start lowering prices and providing greater speeds.

Local Businesses Threatened to Leave – Unless Better Internet Comes to Town

Fairlawn, a small city of approximately 7,500 Ohioans about 10 miles northeast of Akron, created a telecommunications utility in 2015 to bring city-wide access to high-speed Internet service after years of dealing with subpar broadband offerings from the incumbent providers.

The city’s foray into municipal broadband became even more urgent when city officials began hearing from local businesses about the lack of adequate broadband.

“The main issue in Fairlawn was a terrible Internet level of service … With companies it was a real problem. We actually had some companies come to us and tell us that if they couldn’t get a...

Read more
Posted November 2, 2022 by Sean Gonsalves

The Hudson Clock Tower is the most recognizable landmark in the City of Hudson. The 44-foot tall Romanesque-style brick structure was gifted to the city over a hundred years ago by James Ellsworth, a millionaire who considered it a symbol that the time had come to modernize the city’s infrastructure having “watched the town he had grown up in, fall into disrepair.”

Now, this city in northeast Ohio, 15 miles north of Akron, is reviving the public-minded spirit of Ellsworth as it looks to modernize its telecommunications infrastructure through a public-private partnership that would expand the city-owned municipal fiber network, which now only serves part of the city, to reach all 22,000 residents who call Hudson home.

In mid-October the city issued a Request for Proposals in which “all models of network ownership will be considered (that) may either incorporate the (existing city-owned) Velocity Broadband network within the proposed network or may focus on the development of a network completely independent from Velocity Broadband.”

Proposals from prospective Internet service providers are due by Dec. 2.

Velocity Broadband and Then Some

Velocity Broadband was created in 2015 to primarily serve the city’s businesses. In the years since, the city-owned and operated network began offering residential service to a limited number of homes located along the network’s existing fiber path.

Today, Velocity Broadband enjoys a 50 percent take-rate as it serves over 450 business and residential subscribers. The network generates nearly $1 million in revenue each year that covers all operating expenses and debt service, leaving the city with an annual net profit of $150,000.

But, as noted in the RFP:

Although the city already owns and operates its own fiber service in the form of Velocity Broadband, there is still a significant need within the community for access to fiber within residential areas. Currently, over 72%, or 5...

Read more
Posted October 18, 2022 by Karl Bode

Lexington, Tennessee is the latest U.S. city that will soon see the expansion of more affordable fiber thanks to the city-owned utility, Lexington Electric System (LES). LES’ recent $27.49 million state grant award will be the backbone of a new initiative that will both improve the utility’s electrical services, and deliver a long overdue dose of broadband competition to the area. 

Cooperatives and utilities were huge winners in the latest round of awards from the Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund, itself made possible by the American Rescue Plan. Of the $446.8 million in awards doled out by the state, utilities and cooperatives walked away with $204.4 million — or nearly half of all funds.

LES Lands Major Grant Funding

The second biggest grant recipient was LES, whose $27.49 million award will be used to deliver future-proof fiber to the 22,000 residents across Henderson, Decatur, Benton, Carroll and Hardin counties that already receive electricity service from the utility. 

The utility’s original business plan estimated that it will take five years and roughly $42 million to deploy 2,101 miles of new fiber to about 88 percent (18,183) of its current electric customer base. It then proposed taking another five years — and an additional $1.2 million — to reach the remainder of the utility’s harder to reach service users.

More recent estimates proposed by the utility peg the full cost of the fiber deployment at somewhere between $50 million and $55 million.  

“The $43 million dollars was an estimate on the front end of the project before we had a formal design done, updated material, labor, and all construction cost,” Lexington Electric System General Manager Jeff Graves told ILSR. “Part of this was based on the cost per customer of systems with a footprint similar to ours.”

Graves told ILSR that while...

Read more
Posted October 5, 2022 by Sean Gonsalves

Residents of East Carroll Parish are “cautiously celebrating” the decision by Louisiana’s Office of Broadband Development and Connectivity to uphold a $4 million GUMBO grant to bring fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) Internet service to over 2,500 households in one of the most poorly connected parts of the state.

As we reported last month, the grant had been challenged by the regional monopoly cable provider Sparklight after the state had awarded the grant to Conexon. The challenge, which claimed the cable company already serves 2,856 homes in the region, brought the project to a grinding halt on the same day residents were set to launch a sign-up-for-service event.

News that the challenge was rejected brought a sigh of relief to members of Delta Interfaith, a coalition of congregations and community-based organizations in the Louisiana Delta pushing for better broadband. Coalition members had formed an Internet task force during the Covid-19 crisis as families struggled to get access to reliable broadband.

The community and elected officials were elated when Conexon, an independent rural Internet provider, was intially awarded the grant in July – only to be frustrated when they learned of Sparklight’s challenge. Concerned that Sparklight (formerly known as Cable One) was simply gaming the state’s grant challenge process in an effort to stave off competition, community members initiated a letter-writing campaign to bring light to the challenge and pressure state officials to resolve the challenge as soon as possible.

Sparklight 'Failed to Carry Its Burden of Proof'

In its letter to Sparklight explaining why the challenge was being rejected, Office of Broadband Development and Connectivity (OBDC) Executive Director Veneeth Iyengar noted that “because Sparklight has provided such a limited explanation of its position, it is difficult to discern and analyze its argument.”

Iyengar goes on to write:

... Read more
Posted October 4, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio

Join us live on Thursday, October 6, at 5pm ET for the latest episode of the Connect This! Show. Co-hosts Christopher Mitchell (ILSR) and Travis Carter (USI Fiber) will be joined by regular guest Doug Dawson (CCG Consulting) and industry veteran Heather (HBG Strategies). They talk about the economics of broadband deployment, from the effect of taxes, to rural fixed wireless, to whether fiber is ever "too expensive" to build.

Email us at broadband@muninetworks.org with feedback and ideas for the show.

Subscribe to the show using this feed or find it on the Connect This! page, watch on YouTube Live, on Facebook live, or below.

Posted October 3, 2022 by Karl Bode

The city of Mountain Home, Idaho (pop. 14,000) is embracing open access city-run fiber as it pushes to expand affordable broadband to all city residents. Its stated goals: to boost broadband speeds and availability, while lowering prices 25 to 35 percent for all city residents. 

Like so many city-owned broadband projects, city leaders say they were inspired by the success of Ammon, Idaho, which owns and operates an open access fiber network. That network has dramatically boosted competition in the city, drawing nationwide attention for both lower rates, and the ease with which locals can switch providers with the click of a mouse

“The city is not trying to compete with the private sector,” the Mountain Home website proclaims. “The city will simply build and operate the fiber optic infrastructure. This infrastructure will then be open to any service provider that seeks to offer services in the city.”

With chipmaker Micron planning to build a new $15 billion fabrication plant in nearby Boise, city leaders hope to lure potential new employees through affordable broadband access. So they’re both deploying fiber conduit to every new development, and pushing an open access fiber network to lure additional competitors to the region.

That said, the network deployment is only just getting started.

“As of right now we have gone out for bids for the first local improvement district just like the city of Ammon, Idaho,” Mountain Home Mayor Rich Sykes tells ILSR. “Bids should be back next week and hopefully by the end of the month we can award a company to install the conduit.”

These “improvement districts” will be completed in waves, with the first district consisting of around 600-700 homes, and future districts consisting of...

Read more
Posted September 26, 2022 by Karl Bode

In 2012 the residents of Siloam Springs, Arkansas voted against building their own fiber network after some misleading electioneering by the regional cable monopoly Cox Communications. A decade later and local residents are still frustrated by high prices and a lack of competition, as city leaders are still contemplating what exactly they should try to do about it. 

In June, the city released a new report by Finley Engineering and CCG Consulting showing the width and depth of the city’s broadband issues. That report was formally presented at an August city meeting before the city’s recently-formed Broadband Advisory Committee.

Survey Said … 

The survey showed that 11 percent of Siloam Springs residents still lack access to broadband, 77 percent of city residents want greater broadband competition, and 88 percent say they’re paying way too much for broadband service. While residents also complained about sluggish upload speeds and outages, the biggest consistent complaint was high prices. 

“The number one issue that came through loud and clear in the surveys is broadband pricing – practically every resident we heard from thinks current broadband is too expensive,” the study authors noted. 

Siloam Springs is heavily dominated by a duopoly of just two providers: Centurylink and Cox Communications. But even calling it a duopoly is generous; the city’s survey found that Cox enjoys a 92 percent broadband market share within city limits. The lack of competitive threat reduces any real incentive for the cable giant to lower prices or expand service. 

“We’ve never seen a cable company have that percentage of a market before,” CCG Consulting’s Doug Dawson told city leaders during the recent meeting

Indicating a potentially high take rate should the city move...

Read more
Posted September 23, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio

In early August, the city of Holland, Michigan (pop. 33,000) voted to fund the construction of a citywide, open access fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network. It’s the culmination of almost a decade of consideration, education, planning, and success, and builds on decades of work by the Holland Board of Public Works (HBPW) and city officials to build and maintain resilient essential infrastructure for its citizens. It also signals the work the community has done to listen to local residents, community anchor institutions, and the business owners in pushing for an investment that will benefit every premises equally and ensure fast, affordable Internet access is universally available for decades down the road.

In the Works

Holland has been formally exploring the need for better local connectivity since before 2016. It has been aided in this effort by the fact that the Holland Board of Public Works (HBPW), which already provides electricity, water, and waste water services, has been maintaining a small institutional fiber network that it first installed in 1992 (see current coverage in map, right, current as of May 2019).

AT&T, Comcast, and Spectrum all operate in parts of town, but only 22 percent of Holland has access to gigabit download speeds. And so, beginning in 2016 and pushed by officials and Lakeshore Advantage (the local economic development organization), the city began talking about how it could leverage its expertise, experience, and well-earned local trust to do more. Early surveys showed that as many as 70 percent of residents rated Internet access as important as electricity, water, and wastewater services, with strong majorities supporting a community-owned option as the solution to poor local service. 

"It’s a community investment, just like we invest in our roads that are used by everybody. This is a community investment to build a fiber infrastructure that everybody can use." -...

Read more

Pages

Subscribe to FTTH