Holland, Michigan, has now officially transitioned from construction into operation of their downtown fiber optic network.
After a spring decision to expand the range of the initial pilot project, community leaders began contemplating the possibility of offering Internet access directly to the public. Local residents and businesses had long remained unsatisfied with the options they had from incumbents AT&T and Comcast. Entrepreneurs and business owners took to pressuring elected officials into making more use of the community’s existing fiber to improve connectivity.
Holland Board of Public Works (BPW), which had deployed the fiber in the 1990s, used its fiber infrastructure for electric utility purposes and had already been offering wholesale services to a limited number of local businesses. They’ve taken a slow and steady approach toward their pilot and expansion efforts in order to investigate all the options as they move forward.
As in the case of pilots in Westfield, Massachusetts, or Owensboro, Kentucky, the success of the pilot in Holland will help determine whether or not the BPW will extend the network to more residents and businesses. According to the Holland Sentinel, BPW had connected 96 downtown subscribers to the network as of September 13th. The new connections will generate approximately $135,720 in annual revenue and BPW is still taking subscribers at their website.
Subscribers can sign up for symmetrical gigabit access for $85 per month or enhanced gigabit connections for $220 per month. The latter offers additional features that businesses are most likely to need, such as static IP addresses, service level agreements, and priority restoration.
Helping Out Neighbors, Too
Holland’s northeast neighbor, Hudsonville, received a grant earlier this year for downtown development and will be working with BPW to bring fiber to their community also. BPW fiber already runs through the center of Hudsonville, and the streets will be excavated for the project, making this is an opportune time for a similar upgrade.
There’s more about Holland’s network, the services they offer, and the project in episode 269 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. Christopher spoke with Broadband Services Manager Pete Hofswell.