Tag: "smart city"

Posted January 5, 2022 by Karl Bode

Since 1972, the Fort Pierce Utilities Authority (FPUA) has provided gas, electric, water, and natural gas services to Fort Pierce, Florida and surrounding areas. Now, inspired by efforts in cities like Chattanooga, the utility hopes to leverage that expertise to deliver affordable fiber Internet access to the city’s 45,000 residents as part of a significant expansion of its internal fiber network. 

Building on Its I-Net

Since the early 2000s, FPUA has deployed 110 miles of optical fiber via its FPUAnet Communications division. Initially, the project focused on bringing ultra-fast fiber broadband to large businesses, schools, hospitals, and other community anchor institutions. 

In 2018, the city decided to expand its footprint to boost the local economy and cement Fort Pierce’s future reputation as a smart city of the future. First by upgrading the company’s existing utility systems (connected to 30,000 existing customer energy meters), then by utilizing that access to drive expanded fiber connectivity to smaller business and residential customers alike. 

“We wanted to look at what we can do, and what are the needs in the community,” Jason Mittler, FPUAnet manager told me. “We have other local competition…Comcast, AT&T are competitors in the area. But in the realm of symmetrical speeds, no one really offers it.”

Fort Pierce certainly isn’t alone in that regard. Even the notoriously inflated FCC data indicates that most U.S. communities rarely have access to symmetrical speeds of 100 Megabits per second (Mbps) downstream and faster, and competition at those speeds is largely nonexistent. Addressing this market failure created an obvious business expansion opportunity for FPUANet that would not only bring additional value to its existing utility customers in the form of improved reliability and cost savings, but improve regional connectivity while keeping those dollars local

“Upload speeds here in Fort Pierce are not good,” Mittler noted, pointing to the top-heavy speed tiers of both cable broadband and DSL offerings. In contrast, FPUAnet will utilize GPON fiber...

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Posted September 14, 2021 by Ry Marcattilio-McCracken

Ponca City, Oklahoma (pop. 24,100) sits in the north-central part of the Sooner State 100 miles north of Oklahoma City. Its history as a community built and shaped by the oil town looms large, from the E.W. Marland Mansion which still stands as a testament to the efforts of the oil baron who helped build the city in the first decades of the 1900s, to the Conoco Museum which offers residents and tourists a look at the history of the corporate giant which emerged in the latter half of the twentieth century.

But today, instead of pumping petroleum in the name of keeping the local economy strong, officials are broadcasting bytes to residents, business, government facilities, and community anchor institutions via their new municipal fiber utility: Ponca City Broadband. The project, which left its pilot phase two years ago in July, has passed the halfway point of a full greenfield overbuild which will see more than 400 miles of new fiber pulled to build the citywide network as it aims for completion in late 2022.

A Wired Upgrade

Ponca City’s current fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) project was born in 2014, when local officials began talking about bringing more robust connectivity to every location in town. While it began laying fiber for city services as far back as 1996 and used those assets as the basis for a free citywide public Wi-Fi network which launched in 2007, the onset of increased usage that went with HD streaming services called for more. The solution they landed on was a fiber-to-the-home network hitting every premises in town, with planning beginning around 2015. When we last checked in with Director of Technology Services David Williams in July of 2019, the network was completing Phase 1: a 1.5-square-mile rectangular area sitting squarely in the center of town.

Today, Ponca City Broadband is nearing the end of Phases 2 and 3...

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Posted July 29, 2021 by Jericho Casper

Hampton Roads, a metropolitan region bordering the Chesapeake Bay in southeastern Virginia, is known for its 17th century historical sites, shipyards crowded with naval aircraft carriers, and mile-long bridge tunnels. Home to 1.7 million Virginians, Hampton Roads is now looking to broaden avenues for economic development by leveraging existing transatlantic subsea broadband cables to transform the region into a technology-forward digital port. That’s why regional officials recently issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) seeking one or more private partner(s) to construct a regionally-owned 100-mile, open access fiber ring.

Private partners interested in responding to the RFP [pdf] must do so by August 24, 2021. Potential partners can decide to offer some or all of the project functions, choosing to: design, build, finance, operate, and/or maintain the regional fiber ring. (See instructions on how to respond to the RFP, as well as details on the selection process, under Section IV on Page 7.)

Five of the nine cities that make up the region colloquially referred to as “the 757” - Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach - banded together to improve local fiber connectivity in 2018, forming the Southside Network Authority (the Authority). 

According to the Authority's RFP, the project was undertaken to resolve the broadband issues faced by the cities, including:

  • a need for more and more affordable internal connectivity for governmental operations

  • equity and affordability concerns in general as compared to similar metropolitan areas

  • a perceived lack of responsiveness by incumbent providers to the needs of the business community and economic development prospects

  • a relative lack of broadband infrastructure by comparison to comparable metropolitan areas

  • and concerns about the security and scalability of existing, privately-owned regional networks

Regional Impacts

The open access fiber ring will serve the region in multiple ways, promising to expand...

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Posted June 4, 2021 by Ry Marcattilio-McCracken

Last summer we wrote about the slow but steady progress the city of Waterloo, Iowa (pop. 68,000) has been making towards improving local connectivity options for residents and businesses needing it. The city hired Magellan Advisors to perform a feasibility study for a possible Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network in the fall of 2019, but things have been mostly quiet since, with news outlets reporting on a reluctance to release the results of the study for fear of what incumbent cable provider Mediacom would might do to hinder its efforts.

These fears are not without reason, given the company’s previous efforts in the region to slow the specter of municipal competition with lawsuits, complaints, and propaganda efforts in its service territory.

When last we heard the feasibility study would be released this spring, and while we still have not seen a copy, Waterloo must be encouraged. The city’s Telecommunications Board of Trustees established a resident-led municipal broadband utility committee on January 27th, giving the group the charge of tackling “risk mitigation, community marketing, digital infrastructure and finance and business strategy” for a future network.

When the announcement was made, Board Chair Andy Van Fleet said the work would serve as "critical pillars to move this project forward successfully when the time is right to turn the plan into actionable items."

Then, in early April,...

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