The need for voice, video and Internet access services, specifically high-speed Internet access, is nowhere more noticeable than within the local communities across the U.S. They know what they don't have and can very easily make the connection between the economic prosperity of the communities that have it and their own plight. The how to for these communities is always the biggest question.
Once the realization has been made there are a couple of primary ways to go about addressing the problem. The first is the do it yourself way to build a fiber network within the community and along with that build a triple-play service network to run on the fiber. This approach is typical for communities that have reached a breaking point with the incumbents and no longer wish to leave their fate in the hands of another service provider. It also brings them in to the network service providing business, which is also typically something they have never done before, although some have electric utility experience. Regardless, becoming a broadband service provider has its own set of challenges not the least of which is getting the ire of the incumbents up.
There is another way. Simply build, or have a neutral entity build, a community dark fiber network and lease the fiber to one or more service providers that offer triple-play services. This mitigates execution risk and introduces competition while generating high-margin, recurring revenue for the community.
The two approaches are well defined by two different entities: the Fiber To The Home Council and SiFi Networks.
“Communities across the Americas are discovering that their future economic development and quality of life is becoming evermore dependent on the speed of the networks that their citizens can access,” according to the Fiber To The Home Council, whose website www.ftthcouncil.org offers guidance on how to get there. “Gigabit-enabled networks are now possible and are beginning to appear in some communities, with expectations that these superfast, all-fiber services will become standard within a few short years.”
Separately there is the SiFi Networks approach: “SiFi Networks wish [is] to work with progressive communities that are keen to implement next generation fiber optic infrastructures, as they recognize such assets are crucial to economic development and growth strategies and are not merely an entertainment medium, with the initiative being led with full support from city council to allow private investors to utilize all available assets to fund and deliver such platforms. We understand that every community is diverse in its demographic makeup. Our overarching solution provides benefits for all involved in the deployment of a FiberCity.”
As a result, SiFi Networks says:
• Citizens benefit from superfast gigabit internet in the home and at work.
• Local businesses can exploit their increased bandwidth in a plethora of manners to improve efficiency or open new markets.
• Municipalities benefit from boosts to the economy, attracting new development to the city through commercial and residential construction and future proofing their city’s communications network for decades to come, supporting their businesses and stimulating growth.
• ISP providers become the first entrants into a city to bring speeds up to a gigabit, giving them unbeatable opportunity to gain a previously unprecedented market share.
• Investors become the beneficiary of a future-proof fiber optic infrastructure.
“Finance has long been viewed as a major barrier to deployment of fiber to the home,” says SiFi Networks, which say it “is able to bring blended investment structures and create attractive projects that create secure cash flow. We believe in having close working partnerships with all stakeholders, working together to ensure the fiber network is not only a success but all stakeholders reap the benefits of delivering such a vital lifeline for the growth of the world’s economy.?Working in partnership with municipalities we can design, build and manage the fiber network, partnering with ISPs who wish to take advantage of supplying a community with ultra-high speed internet access.?”
The how to of FTTH clearly has many potential paths. Choosing which is the right one is a matter of preference as much as it is risk tolerance. In either situation above, the motivations remain the same for the communities. Boosting the local economy is a top priority and one that is sure to generate serious interest and momentum.
Edited by Maurice Nagle