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In early April while Christopher was at the 2019 Broadband Communities Summit in Austin, he recorded a series of interviews for the podcast. We’ve been sharing them over the past two months. This week we’re presenting his conversation with Director of Market Development and Government Affairs Monica Webb and Vice President for Networks Adam Eisner from Ting.
In addition to giving us a quick history about the Canadian company that provides Internet access, mobile phone service, and other services, Monica and Adam describe how the company’s culture that focuses on customers has been a driving force behind their success. Christopher asks Monica and Adam about the different models that Ting is using in its efforts to bring high-quality connectivity to places like Westminster, Maryland; Sandpoint, Idaho; and now Fullerton, California. Our guests describe how the company’s startup culture, emphasis on branding and marketing, and hyper local approach has assisted them with becoming and integral part of different communities and in developing unique partnerships.
Monica and Adam also share some of the lessons they’ve learned in working with municipalities. While places vary widely in character, there are some actions every local community can take that help expedite deployment, especially with regard to preparation of permitting processes and related matters. The sooner a network is constructed and launched, the sooner local residents and businesses are enjoying high-speed Internet access.
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.
Ting Fiber has continued its expansion into two more U.S. metropolitan areas, lighting fiber up in a northern Idaho town and planting a flag in a city south of the research triangle in North Carolina. Residents of the region of greater Sandpoint, Idaho (a service area of nearly 10,000 residents), and Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina (population of around 25,000), will soon see the benefits of fiber Internet access with Ting’s Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) service.
In the spring of 2017, Sandpoint began leasing out part of its core dark fiber infrastructure to Ting. The Toronto-based ISP has been working on building out its fiber in the Idaho town since early April of this year, and just lit up its first customers (two small businesses) from a fiber expansion effort in downtown and central Sandpoint. Eventually Ting is planning on offering FTTH for residential and business access in Sandpoint, as well as Dover, Ponderay, and Kootenai, all in Bonner County.
Sandpoint worked on building out its own dark fiber network for around five years, with the intent of leasing its infrastructure out to ISPs. Crews installed two conduits, one to reserve for emergency communications that the city would retain, and one for an open access network for ISPs to utilize.
The city has already entered into one non-exclusive franchise agreement with Intermax, which provides fiber to commercial businesses, and has contracted out fiber builds with Fatbeam. Both companies are local to the northern Idaho region.
A Long Time Coming
Sandpoint, Idaho’s fiber-optic infrastructure is ready to lease to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) interested in serving the north Idaho town. A regional provider recently announced that it will take advantage of the community’s fiber to expand its network by leasing dark fiber from the city to serve local commercial subscribers.
Big Plans Begin To Unfold
The city installed fiber during road project construction over a five-year period. About a year ago, Sandpoint released a Request for Proposals (RFP) to help the community of 9,700 people make strategic use of its dark fiber network. In addition to leasing dark fiber to providers, the network will serve municipal needs such as public safety and city offices. In February, the City Council established rates for dark fiber leasing and maintenance.
Things have been somewhat quiet until Intermax Networks announced that it has entered into an agreement with the city to lease excess capacity on Sandpoint’s network and will use the new infrastructure to offer connectivity to local commercial subscribers.
President Max Kennedy said in an official statement:
"We’ve provided fiber services to commercial businesses in Sandpoint for years, but today we are proud to be the first private partner with the City of Sandpoint to expand our network by licensing space on the city’s new fiber infrastructure.
Sandpoint has been an integral part of Intermax since the company was founded in Sandpoint in 2001. This year we are going to be dramatically expanding our service capacity in Sandpoint, and we’re pleased to be working with the city on this great project."
Intermax serves commercial sites throughout northern Idaho with fiber and connects to peer networks in Seattle and Portland. The company also provides a variety of services to residential customers and anchor institutions in Kootenai, Bonner, Boundary, and Spokane Counties.
Don't Forget Mr. And Mrs. Sandpoint
Sandpoint, Idaho, located in the state’s panhandle, is likely to host Ting’s Internet service over publicly owned Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) infrastructure. All that remains is for the service provider to determine that the demand exists in the anticipated service area of approximately 9,700 people. In addition to residents and businesses in Sandpoint, properties in nearby Dover, Ponderay, and Kootenai are anticipated potential subscribers.
Approximately 7,500 people live in the city, which is the Bonner County Seat. The community is popular as a ski resort town and is located on Lake Pend Oreille. In addition to tourism, the manufacturing, aerospace, software, and healthcare industries are important employers in Sandpoint. It covers approximately 4.8 square miles and, five years ago, was named “most Beautiful Small Town” by Rand McNally and USA Today.
Seeking Assistance Moving Forward
The city has recently issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to find a firm to propose a plan to make the best use of their existing dark fiber network. According to the RFP, Sandpoint is looking for consultants to help them engage in conversations with stakeholders and providers, determine the city’s assets, use their assets for maximum economic development, and a variety of other tasks.
Sandpoint has had an existing conduit system in place for some time but, according to the RFP, has not been “proofed” and may not be suitable for larger cables. The city also has an underground fiber backbone and is in the process of installing more fiber-optic cable.
Bonner County also owns conduit within Sandpoint that can be accessed as part of the town’s project. The RFP describes more conduit in and around the city and Sandpoint’s preliminary plans to use it to improve local connectivity.
Ting has chosen the Greater Sandpoint, Idaho, region as its next Internet access service area. The partnership will allow Ting to provide gigabit Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Internet access to residents and businesses in Sandpoint, Dover, Ponderay, and Kootenai. The four communities are located in Bonner County, in the panhandle area of the state; approximately 9,700 people populate the proposed service area.
Rural Subscribers Want It, Need It, Will Use It
Potential subscribers can pre-order right away as part of Ting's "demand assessment" phase. Construction will begin later in 2016 when Ting determines there is sufficient demand in the region.
In a March 2nd announcement:
“Internet speed and infrastructure is an issue that is on the national agenda,” said Elliot Noss, CEO of Ting and its parent company Tucows. “While it’s obviously very important to get major metros connected with fast fiber Internet, Ting Internet is proving that the fastest Internet access available isn’t just for city centers. Smaller cities and towns need faster, more reliable Internet too. Maybe even more so.”
Ting has made it known that it is looking for more communities that are willing to lease their publicly owned fiber to the company. Ting hopes to build upon municipal fiber assets to bring FTTH to cities, towns, and villages of all sizes. We are pleased to pass on news of this plan to bring high quality Internet access to one of many less populated communities in the U.S. One should not have to live in a metropolitan area just to get fast, affordable, reliable Internet access.
The Ting Community Is Growing