Four executives from electric coops took center stage last week during ADTRAN Connect, depicting a region largely left alone by commercial carriers due to the cost of deployment and support. And this week, ADTRAN is again focusing on rural America with new deals.
Across the countryside, where acres separate houses and drivers cruise for miles without seeing another vehicle, the cost of delivering fiber-to-the-home is impractical for commercial operators. But just as they once brought electricity to regions unserved by public utilities, today's electric coops increasingly deliver high-speed FTTH to their members.
Fiber is expensive, after all, and operators have fiscal responsibilities to shareholders and employees, and the need to invest in infrastructures, new technologies and expensive content, said Steve Foshee, CEO of Tombigbee Electric Coop. But since coops are owned by and for their members, they have different rules.
In the case of Tombigbee Electric, it began connecting the first of its current roster of 2,500 customers in September 2017 and adds about 100 per month. Tombigbee is between 25% and 35% built out and has spent $16 million on the fiber broadband deployment; ultimately it expects to invest between $40 million and $45 million, Foshee said.
"We've got 450 miles constructed and 4,500 to go," he said. "We'll go down to two customers per mile. When we go down to two customers per mile, we're going to lose a ton of money. We know it."
Of the 44 million residents of rural America, 31% do not have access to home Internet that meets the minimum standard of 25Mbit/s download, 3Mbit/s upload, said Heather Gold, former president of the Fiber Broadband Association (and current board member), during ADTRAN Connect And there is no guarantee existing networks are future-proof, making it probably rural residents will lag further behind once gigabit broadband is available in all cities and suburbs and 5G arrives, she added.
FiberRise offers an array of services to complement coops' internal strengths and staffs; they include engineering and design, business services and chief technology officer. The coops plan to use ADTRAN's Total Access 5000 Gigabit services architecture, an open and scalable approach that provides future proofing and flexibility.
"We know how key fiber broadband is to the economic development of our community. It’s our aim to ensure affordable access to gig service for our members that wish to have it," said ADTRAN Connect panelist and NAEC General Manager Bruce Purdy.
NAEC, which has been installing fiber since 2014, has an average 8.5 customers per mile of line for a total of 5,000 -- and the implementation of broadband allowed businesses to start or reopen and allows families to move back home or relocate to the countryside and telecommute to city jobs.
"You're always going to have the people who want to come back home," Purdy said. "This is what allowed them to do it."
Deutsche Telekom just signed an infrastructure project with the Gigabit Region Stuttgart, home to 174 municipalities and almost 3 million people, one of many partnerships the German operator has inked in its bid to grow revenue and business.
In this insightful Light Reading radio show, Kurt Raaflaub, Head of Strategic Solutions Marketing, will outline the key service provider challenges, deployment considerations, next-gen Gigabit technologies, and service models to win market share in the rapidly growing MDU market.
The MDU market continues to face fierce competition among service providers due to tech-savvy residents (i.e., millennials), demand from building owners and management companies, plus the favorable economics of bulk contracts. However, no MDUs are the same, so service providers must use multiple technologies and inconsistent deployment models, increasing operational complexity and rollout costs.
The MDU market itself is evolving as residents adopt smart-home technologies, generating rising demand for smart apartments with built-in connected thermostats, keyless entryways and doors, and video doorbells. This evolution presents both new challenges and opportunities. In other words, service providers must consider innovative service-delivery strategies to compete and win.
In this Broadband World News and ADTRAN webinar, Kurt Raaflaub, Head of Strategic Solutions Marketing, will highlight emerging MDU broadband Internet trends and challenges. In addition, Kurt will outline the next-generation service creation and delivery platform, built on open standards, that allows service providers to connect millions of underserved MDUs, enables creation of user-driven services, and reduces operational complexity and costs.
Plus, special guest, Alice Lawson, Broadband and Cable Program Manager for the City of Seattle, will discuss Seattle’s B4B-Build For Broadband initiative that addresses best practices in planning for MDU telecommunication infrastructure.