Ammon, Idaho, got our attention years ago but as benefits from the city’s publicly owned fiber optic infrastructure continue to grow, others are taking notice. Most recently, contributing editor at Fast Company, Jay Woodruff wrote about the community’s investment in Fast Company's “The New Capitalism” series.
Woodruff notes that Ammon, with only about 16,500 people, has surpassed large cities in quality of connectivity and choice of Internet access providers. Woodruff quotes Bruce Patterson, Technology Director in Ammon: “If you were to ask me what the key component of Ammon is, I would say it’s a broadband infrastructure as a utility. We’ve just found a way to make it a true public infrastructure, like a road.”
Woodruff describes how the infrastructure is being integrated into the community’s larger development:
Residents of Ammon can choose to opt in to the network, which the city began building in 2011. Patterson expects that by the end of 2019, 900 of the town’s 4,500 residences will have joined the network. The city is growing, adding new residential addresses at a rate of about one per day, and Patterson says that every single developer is choosing to include the fiber infrastructure in new construction.
When asked what makes Ammon’s network better than other options available in communities such as New York and San Francisco, Patterson offered four factors:
PUBLIC UTILITY: The city of Ammon manages the network the same way it handles water services or road maintenance. “If we could simply come to a point as a nation where we would say internet infrastructure is essential and we’re going to make sure that everybody has access to it,” Patterson says, “that would be a huge step forward.”
CHOICE: … There are eight local ISPs, and users can switch among them instantly without requiring a “truck roll” (a visit from the ISP to adapt hardware at the customer’s location), because Ammon uses software to “virtualize” the network….
MORE FOR LESS: The Ammon network has reduced the cost of a 1 Gbps connection available via one of the ISPs from $99 a month (with a minimum three-year contract) to $9.99 a month with no contractual obligation….
SMARTER CITY: Ammon network participants are connected to a smart grid that offers access to a variety of municipal services, including public safety and utility services, with more planned.
Learn more about Ammon’s network by watching our 2016 video, “Ammon’s Model: The Virtual End of Cable Monopolies.”