City Fiber Networks

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Clarksville, Tenn. labels itself a “broadband community” thanks to a 630-mile fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network that the Clarksville Department of Energy (map) built to monitor and control 55,000 residential and commercial electric meters in the 122,000-person community, reports Telecommunications Magazine and DSL Reports.

That network, which uses World Wide Packets’ carrier Ethernet technology, is also the foundation of a triple play offering of IPTV, voice and high- speed data services the city will offer to every home.

They have the ability to read the meters every 15 minutes for every single meter in the network and can know ahead of time if there’s a power outage in any location.” That alone is worth US$30 per truck roll, said Christy Batts, telecom marketing manager for Clarksville, who said the city averages about 130,000 of them a year.

Batts made it clear that the city’s first intention was not to compete with the incumbents; it was to save money for the electric utility. In fact, she said, the network probably never would have been built if the cost of fiber hadn’t dropped the way it has. Because glass costs less “the fiber-to-the-home process was much more conducive than anything else we have seen,” she said.

An AT&T-commissioned study (pdf), looked closely at the relationship between job growth and broadband use and found that they are directly correlated with California receiving a cumulative gain of 1.8 million jobs and $132 billion in payroll over the next decade.

Meanwhile, the Portland, Oregon, City Council votes this morning on a cable TV franchise for Qwest. The topic is on the council’s consent agenda, meaning approval is probably a formality.

Qwest’s Oregon managers have pursued the agreement all year, touting prospective cable service in parts of the city as soon 2008. Qwest and city officials say a competitor to local cable monopoly Comcast could improve service and hold down cable rates. But Qwest has grown ambivalent about cable television, just as Portland appears poised to give the company permission to enter the city’s cable TV market, says the Oregonian.

According to documents obtained by Broadband Reports, Qwest appears to be training employees in preparation for a broader deployment of fiber to the node and VDSL or ADSL2+ technology. New Qwest CEO Edward A. Mueller will be deciding how aggressively to pursue that market, and Portland is one of the first places where that decision will play out

Qwest plans to string fiber only as far as Portland neighborhoods, not directly to customer homes, similar to the AT&T Uverse approach with IPTV. That means Web access of no more than 20 megabits per second. Qwest doesn’t plan to upgrade the whole city for many years — if at all.

AT&T’s Uverse is available in California (San Francisco/Oakland, San Jose/Santa Clara, Orange County/Riverside), Connecticut (Fairfield County), Indiana (Indianapolis), Kansas (Kansas City), Michigan (Detroit), Ohio (Cleveland), Oklahoma (Oklahoma City), Texas (Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio) and Wisconsin (Milwaukee).

Community-built fiber projects include;

Critics say cities should stay out of the fiber business:

  • Miles of empty cable conduits now crisscross the Twin Cities, a consequence of Minnesota officials pulling the plug on a $200 million plan to wire the state. The “Connecting Minnesota” project granted exclusive rights-of-way for network infrastructure to a single contractor in return for a 20-percent cut of broadband capacity. But uneconomic requirements demanded by the state scared away investors. And unable to attract financing, the project folded.
  • Iowa invested $350 million to lay 4,000 miles of fiber optic cable. But the Des Moines Register reports that the network is experiencing “more failures than ever” because the state lacks the revenue for basic repairs. U.S. taxpayers, meanwhile, are bailing out the system with a $3.1 million outlay to keep school connections operating.
  • California launched a state-owned telecom system in hopes of saving money by aggregating the state’s demand for broadband. But after wracking up some $20 million in debt, officials privatized the system. Said Peter Stamison, director of California’s Department of General Services: “Running a telephone company is not a core competency of state government.”
  • Montana became the first state to offer tax credits for broadband deployment in 1999. But budget constraints forced suspension of the program.

The Portland City Council will review plans for a Community Fiber Network, on November 20, but decided not to build a $500 million plant itself. Uptown Services created the $136,000 study (pdf).

Related DailyWireless articles include; Muni Fiber for Portland?, IPTV: Is It Soup Yet?, Community Fiber Nets, Oregon MuniFiber: the Bad & the Good, Q-Life Unwired for Google’s Oregon Facility?, Oregon Fiber for Google, Verizon Makes its Move for Universal Service Fund, Verizon’s $6B Smackdown, ConnectKentucky, Qwest Proposes Universal Service Changes, Wireless Houston: Size Queen?, Statewide/Nationwide Wireless Broadband, State-wide Wireless Broadband Access, South Carolina Proposes Statewide Free Wireless, Rural Broadband Dying, and Statewide Wimax in Rhode Island, Congress: Measure Broadband Better!, Oregon’s $500 Million Statewide Wireless Network.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Wednesday, November 14th, 2007 at 9:53 am .

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