Tag: "muni"

Posted June 11, 2009 by christopher

Chattanooga, Tennessee is predicting it will offer FTTH in its entire service area by next year. The public power company has used fiber-optics in the past to manage its electrical operations and has been planning to offer a full FTTH network for awhile.

"There are two primary components to building this system. One component is taking longer than we thought and the other is happening much faster than we anticipated", said Harold DePriest, President and CEO. "The end result is that services will be available to the entire cities of Chattanooga, East Ridge and Red Bank by summer of 2010."

DePriest says once in place, EPB's fiber optic network will be the largest of its kind in the country.

However, Chattanooga has suffered the same problem that has plagued other publicly owned broadband projects around the country: incumbent telco and cableco lawyers. Comcast has sued Chattanooga in multiple courts in an attempt to limit competition (see here, here, here, and here for a few examples). As with these cases across the country (from Monticello, MN to Bristol, VA, to Lafayette, LA), the incumbents have lost the cases but successfully slowed the build-out, which hurts the community while padding company profits for an extra couple of years.

The network will offer symmetrical speeds of 10-50Mbps while keeping costs lower than the standard prices in the market.

Posted June 9, 2009 by christopher

The Broadband Properties Muni Snapshot of Jackson Energy Authority, serving Jackson Tennessee, offers a fiber-to-the-home network. As is common to the snapshots, it is heavy on technical data.

After 4 years, they had an overall take rate of 39% as well as some businesses locating in the area due to the network. Residents have saved some $8 million in aggregate since the network began offering services.

Posted June 9, 2009 by christopher

The May 2008 issue of Broadband Properties offers an overview of municipally-owned fiber-to-the-home networks across the United States. The article discusses why public power utilities are heavily represented, open vs. closed, the geographical distribution, and most importantly, the many differences between the models used by all these different communities.

In fact, what we have found is that there is no “municipal model.” Municipalities and other public entities build FTTP systems for many reasons and in many situations. They face a variety of legal and competitive landscapes, employ different financing methods, operate their systems in diverse ways, deliver different sets of services to different types of customers, and bring a diversity of resources and competencies to the task. While there are certain recurrent themes, there is no single distinguishing feature. Local differences appear to far outweigh the simple fact of public ownership.

Posted June 8, 2009 by christopher

Another snapshot, mostly containing technical data on the Morristown FTTH network - FiberNET. Like many networks in Tennessee, this network is run by the municipal utility. They started signing up customers in May 2006 and by late 2008 already had a take rate of 33%.

Perhaps the most significant sign of success is that neighboring communities want service as well. By offering comparably services at lower prices, the community saves some $1.1 million/year.

Posted June 8, 2009 by christopher

Salisbury, a city of nearly 30,000 in North Carolina, has started building its full fiber-to-the-home network. Salisbury had some difficulty in funding the network at first due to the collapsing economy last year. However, they securing financing in November 2008 and have now started building the network. A recent Salisbury Post article notes that Atlantic Engineering Group is installing conduit. However, residents will have to wait more than a year to take any services. They still have to build the multi-million dollar head end. They already have agreements covering access to the telephone polls -- which are owned by Duke Energy and AT&T.

Posted June 4, 2009 by christopher

A newly recurring feature in Broadband Properties is the Municipal FTTH Deployment Snapshot. In the first snapshot, they featured Sallisaw, Oklahoma. Unfortunately, this snapshot features little aside from technical details.

sallisaw.png

Their biggest success:

"We are broadcasting local sports on our cable system and have connected many new customers because of it. With our fiber system we can bring customers live audio and video of not only sports but also community events. This has been a very popular service for our community, thanks to the help from the Sequoyah County Times."

Posted June 1, 2009 by christopher

A recurring feature in Broadband Properties is the Municipal FTTH Deployment Snapshot. The Aug/Sept 2008 issue featured one of oldest municipal citywide FTTH deployments in the United States - Bristol Virgina Utilities' Optinet.

The article featured a wealth of technical data from the network as a well as a short history of their legal fights and their "Biggest Success."

Posted May 18, 2009 by christopher

This paper provides evidence that municipally owned and operated cable television enterprises are financially viable and provide large rate savings to their communities. The findings contradict allegations in Costs, Benefits, and Long-Term Sustainability of Municipal Cable Television Overbuilds, a 1998 paper authored by Ronald J. Rizzuto and Michael O. Wirth, that such enterprises are likely to be poor investments for cities. The authors claim that analysis of financial histories of the cable enterprises in Glasgow (Kentucky), Paragould (Arkansas), and Negaunee (Michigan) “clearly indicates that [they] have been poor investments from a pure business perspective.” They are pessimistic about the fourth, Cedar Falls (Iowa). The authors contend that these enterprises “have not generated [or will not generate] sufficient cash flows to cover their out of pocket cash needs.... None ... [is] currently sustainable over the long run.” However, by the incorrect criteria and analysis that Rizzuto and Wirth use, few new enterprises—public or private—would pass financial muster. The authors further contend that the only reason these utilities have been able to remain solvent is because of various subsidies, personal and property tax transfers, or interest-free loans. Rizzuto and Wirth’s conclusions are not surprising since their paper was partially funded by Telecommunications, Inc. (“TCI”), the private, incumbent cable television provider in Cedar Falls at the time the city was creating its municipal cable enterprise. Although Rizzuto and Wirth’s paper was published seven years ago, critical review of it is timely and important. Formation of municipal cable enterprises is a major public policy issue; private broadband providers have been successful in having several states bar or place crippling limitations on the formation of such enterprises. The time that has elapsed since the paper was published provides a good perspective for checking the authors’ predictions about the financial viability of the four municipal enterprises. Most importantly, however, Rizzuto and Wirth’s paper is often cited currently by those who oppose municipal entry in the cable television industry and related broadband industries. Their paper is widely quoted in reports of other organizations that oppose formation of municipal cable enterprises.

Posted May 14, 2009 by christopher

This report is basically a snapshot of how Community FTTH systems were doing as of early 2008. Deployments by municipalities were among the first FTTH systems operating in the United States. Though, in aggregate, they do not approach the number of FTTH subscribers of a Verizon – which currently accounts for two-thirds of all FTTH deployments in the U.S. – municipal systems do have a significant percentage of all non-Verizon subscribers. Further, they represent an important aspect of national FTTH deployment, namely, the option and opportunity for local elected officials and civic leaders to upgrade local connectivity - when private enterprise will not take on the job.

In the case of muni systems, which are not-for-profit enterprises, one measure of “success” is defined as the level of their “take rate” – that is, the percentage of potential subscribers who are offered the service that actually do subscribe. Nationwide, the take rates for retail municipal systems after one to four years of operation averages 54 percent. This is much higher than larger incumbent service provider take rates, and is also well above the typical FTTH business plan usually requiring a 30-40 percent take rate to “break even” with payback periods.

Posted May 14, 2009 by christopher

Municipal broadband has been a success for those communities that have begun offering service. It is no surprise. Historically, local government has always corrected market failure by providing essential services. The driving force for efficiency in these networks is not profit maximization, but public service. The money saved through cost reductions stays in the community. Public networks have increased broadband competition, not reduced it, and they have resulted in lower prices. The propaganda maligning municipal systems is nothing more than industry-sponsored folklore.

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