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School District Will Cut Connectivity Costs 85% With Public Fiber in Iowa
Plans for a fiber network collaboration between the city, school district, and county will save hundreds of thousands of dollars in Stormlake, Iowa. The school district recently voted to take advantage of significant savings for connectivity by switching to the publicly owned infrastrucutre as soon as the network is ready.
The Storm Lake Pilot recently reported that under the current contract with Vast Broadband, the district pays $7,500 per month to lease two strands of fiber. The new arrangement will allow the district to lease 12 fibers from the city-owned network for $14,000 per year or $1,167 per month - a reduction of approximately 85 percent. The city and the school district will enter into a 10-year agreement to ultimately save the district a total of $760,000 or approximately $6,333 per month during the term of the lease.
The school will still need to pay for Internet access and as part of the agreement will be responsible for purchasing its own equipment. The School Board voted unanimously to approve the agreement.
As we reported in July, the Stormlake project began as a way to better communication between water and wastewater utility facilities but then evolved into a public safety and cost saving initiative. All three entities - Storm Lake Community School District, the City of Storm Lake, and Buena Vista County - anticipate considerable savings and heightened reliability. We expect to report on more public savings as the community uses this valuable fiber asset.
Project costs for the system of conduit and fiber, which does not include hardware, are estimated at approximately $1,374,000 to be shared by all three entities. This first phase of the project is scheduled to be completed by December.
POTs and PANs Explores Conduit
As the article notes, while installers can lay fiber optic cables without using conduit, carrier-class conduits often use conduit for two primary reasons: (1) to protect fiber optic cables and (2) to make the cables easily accessible for future needs. The post explains the three methods installers user to feed the cables through the conduit. One method, the simplest of all, involves pushing the cables through conduit; it is commonly used for home and office installations. For longer routes, installers can potentially use either of more complex pulling and blowing methods. Dawson discusses the advantages and limitations of each method along with unique characteristics of short and long installations that dictate which method is the best for a given job.
For example, the most basic pushing method is practical for short runs inside of offices and homes because it can’t overcome snags and bends in conduit the way the pulling method can. On the other hand, while the pulling method is the most viable method for long outdoor installations, it is also more likely to cause damage to the cables during the install process. While installers can use the blowing method for longer routes in some circumstances, it requires installers to use a lighter than normal set of fiber cables, specialized conduit with a low-friction lining, and more care avoid physical obstructions in the conduit.
Chicago Alderman Advocates Public Fiber For Municipal Savings
At a Chicago City Council meeting this month, a newly elected alderman proposed the city stop relying on incumbent ISPs and start using its existing fiber network for connectivity.
Pointing to nearby cities like Aurora, where municipal government eliminated leased lines to reduce costs by $485,000 per year, Alderman Brian Hopkins suggested the switch could save the city “tens of millions of dollars” annually. He also advocated the change in order to provide more efficient services.
“We already have a robust infrastructure in place to build from. Fiber optic resources currently controlled and managed by [the Office of Emergency Management and Communications] for traffic, first-responder, and emergency services is an example,” Hopkins said. "Given the debt Chicago faces, we should follow other cities by switching all municipal government broadband access from private incumbent providers to a taxpayer-owned fiber network. The money saved can be reinvested into the expansion of the municipal network to finally reach those communities that need fast affordable access. Why would we not do this?”
Hopkins’s comments come on the heels of a resolution we reported on earlier this year from four powerful Chicago City Council members calling for hearings on how to use city buildings, light poles and high-speed fiber-optic lines for a wireless network that could raise the city millions.
The city is trying to find ways to generate revenue amidst a major $30 billion employee pension crisis that led Moody’s to downgrade the city’s bond rating to junk status in May.
Fibrant Rolls out 10 Gbps, A Look At Salisbury's Challenges in FTTH
Salisbury, North Carolina's Fibrant, now holds the distinction of offering the fastest Internet access in the country. The municipal network is making 10 Gbps symmetrical connectivity available for residents and businesses.
Fibrant's first 10 Gbps customer is Catawba College, a local school that will use the ultra-fast connections for its new Digital Media Creation and Collaboration labs. In a press release Joanna Jasper, Catawba CIO stated:
"By moving to Fibrant's 10 Gbps speeds, the College is in a better position to differentiate itself. We can bring world-class broadband services to our campus community to support the next generation of educational applications."
"The future is all about rich immersive digital media and being able to communicate and collaborate with others in real-time regardless of where people are in time and space."
The city of Salisbury hopes this new standard will set it apart from other North Carolina communities and entice more economic development. From a BizJournals article:
“It helps us differentiate ourselves” among cities and states seeking technology companies, [says Kent Winrich, Director of Broadband and Infrastructure Services]. “It will attract international companies. It’s not sniping businesses from Charlotte.”
Winrich sees Salisbury attracting technology companies that need the bandwidth for real-time connections to clients and suppliers — software developers and data centers, for example.
The network, which already offers gigabit connectivity to businesses and residents for around $100 per month, has attracted several businesses to a community that once struggled with job loss. Mayor Paul Woodson told WFAE that the investment in Fibrant grew out of necessity:
Owensboro, Kentucky, Developing Muni FTTH Pilot
Owensboro Municipal Utilities (OMU) is now expanding its Fibernet services with a pilot FTTH program to connect residents this fall. There are approximately 500 homes in the selected area where OMU will test out the new venture. People living in the project area can sign-up online.
Businesses in Owensboro have had access to OMUFibernet for data transport since 1999 and in 2014 the utility added VoIP to its commercial product line. The pilot will offer gigabit Internet access to residents, but OMUFibernet has only advertised speeds up to 100 Mbps to business customers thus far, according to the OMU website. Businesses are also able to lease dark fiber, which allows them to have more flexibility with data transport speeds.
The city, home to approximately 58,000 people, is the county seat of Daviess County and sits on the south side of the Ohio River. The entire metropolitan population is over 116,000 people. OMU has offered electric and water service since 1900 and describes itself as the largest municipal electric and water system in the state.
OMU plans to offer three tiers for symmetrical Internet access in the city's Town & Country neighborhood. Gigabit service will be priced at $99.99 per month, 100 Mbps at $69.99 per month, and 50 Mbps at $49.99 per month. All subscriptions will require a $49.99 installation fee.
New Video on Economic Development and High-Speed Connectivity in Tennessee
Tennessee Fiber Optic Communities has released another quality video focused on restoring local telecommunications authority. This three minute feature describes the importance of high speed connectivity to local economic development.
The video offers specific examples of businesses that relocated to places like Jackson and Chattanooga, comparing business connectivity in places with municipal networks to areas where high-speed connections from incumbents are costly and hard to come by.
Check out the video from the Tennessee Fiber Optic Communities:
TNFOC_EconomicDevelopment2 from TN For Fiber on Vimeo.
Video on OpenCape: How Cape Cod Created a Fiber Network
Almost ten years ago, Dan Gallagher, a technology director at Cape Cod Community College, could not get the bandwidth the college needed from incumbent service providers. After communicating with others in the areas, it soon became clear that a number of others shared the same experience.
“We asked anyone who thinks this is a problem for their business or entity here on the cape to come to cape cod community college to talk about it and a hundred people showed up.” - Dan Gallagher in eSTEAMers
The community formed non-profit OpenCape, and created a 350 mile fiber optic network and a colocation data center with $40 million in combined BTOP grants, state grants, and private funding. Completed in late 2012, the project proved to be well-worth the wait. Three large entities almost immediately became customers on the network: the Joint Base, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, and Hydroid, Inc, a private company.
Now the senior consultant for OpenCape, Dan Gallagher describes the project in depth in this episode of eSTEAMers by Cape Cod Community Media Center.
Paul Bunyan Communications Wins Award for GigaZone
Sometimes we just want to celebrate a small victory for local communities. Back in June, Paul Bunyan Communications won the 2015 Leading Lights National Award for Most Innovative Gigabit Broadband Service.
This small cooperative from rural northern Minnesota beat both innovative local firms like C Spire and national companies like Google. Whereas Comcast is rolling out Gigabit Pro in Silicon Valley, Paul Bunyan Communications is serving sparsely populated, often-ignored, rural areas. Gary Johnson, the Paul Bunyan Communications CEO/General Manager was honored to accept the award and explained their approach to gigabit access:
“It is one of the first gigabit network initiatives that will encompassas a large rural area and I think that is significant. Many of the gigabit network projects taking place are in small portions of densely populated metropolitan areas. Too often, the more challenging rural America gets overlooked.”
Paul Bunyan Communications has created a GigaZone passing 7,800 locations, and will soon include 20,000 locations by the end of this year. Those in the GigaZone will have the opportunity to buy a Gigabit connection for only $100 a month. The goal for the small telecom cooperative is to expand the GigaZone to encompass the entire 5,000 square mile service area. Now, that deserves an award.
Dark Fiber Network Saving Money, Generating Revenue in Burbank
ONE Burbank, the dark fiber network that has provided connectivity for studios since 1997, is bringing a number of benefits to Burbank schools and taxpayers, reports the Burbank Leader. The network is saving public dollars, generating revenue, and providing better connectivity to schools and public facilities.
Five years ago, we reported on Burbank's asset and its primary customers - Hollywood studios. That trend has continued but now the network generates even more revenue. As a result, all electric customers served by Burbank Water and Power save with lower utility bills:
Last year, ONE Burbank generated $3.4 million in revenues for the utility, [General Manager Ron] Davis said in May. That’s compared to roughly $205,000 in 1997 and about $1.5 million five years ago, according to data Davis presented to the City Council.
“The bulk of that [$3.4 million] is all margin and helps keep electric rates down,” Davis said. “[We do] basically zero marketing and collect that margin.”
By connecting city facilities rather than leasing from a private provider, Burbank has all but eliminated past telecommunications expenses, lowering costs by 95% and saving, $480,000 in total thusfar. The school district has saved $330,000 since connecting to ONE Burbank.
ONE Burbank is also providing four times as much bandwidth to the school at a much lower rate that it once paid to the private sector, cutting its costs from $18,000 per year to $9,000 per year.
In August, Burbank Water and Power began using the dark fiber network as backhaul for free Wi-Fi service available throughout the city. There is no service level guarantee but it is open to any device:
“It’s just out there if you can get it,” Ron Davis, the utility’s general manager, told the City Council last week.
The dark fiber has helped retain and attract business, reports city leaders, and they want to continue the current trajectory to bring in high-tech companies and turn Burbank into a "Silicon Beach."
Westminster Homes Now Receiving Gig Internet Access From Ting
After several years of planning, deployment, and the formation of a partnership with Ting, Westminster's fiber network is now serving its citizens. In August, local CPA Tim Redmond and his wife Allison were the first to get gigabit Internet access, according to a Ting press release.
Apparently, Redmond has been waiting for some time to be able to access such speeds online:
Redmond has followed along with Westminster’s efforts to get the gig for city residents. He first learned of gigabit fiber Internet coming to town in a pretty low-tech way. “We got our water bill and there was an enclosure. It described that fiber optic Internet was coming to Westminster” and introduced Ting Internet as the service provider for Westminster.
It was welcome news; Redmond has been following fiber since his college days when Verizon started to push FiOS in Baltimore. When it became clear that big providers aren’t willing to go anywhere but a major metro, he became despondent. OK, despondent might be a slight overstatement. “I was bummed,” is what he actually said.
Redmond first used his new gig Internet access to fire up his computer and telecommute to his office. Like many residents in Westminster, he will use the network to do more of the same - something he could only wish for prior to the city's initiative to bring publicly owned infrastructure to town.
Listen to Chris interview Dr. Robert Wack, the man who spearheaded the initiative, in episode #100, and Tucows CEO Elliot Noss, parent company of Ting, in episode #134 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast.