Family-owned service provider Rainier Connect is bringing high-speed Internet to its 15,000 customers across the western United States after upgrading its network to 100 Gbit/s, part of the CSP's forward-looking plan to bring ultra-broadband to rural regions.
"Our goal is to arm ourselves with a network that could transit a minimum of 1Gbps to each of our subscribers while providing expansion capability to support significant upgrades over the next five to seven years," Ben Miller, Network Operations manager at Rainier, told UBB2020. "We primarily service rural markets and feel the network we have invested in will accommodate the growing needs of our customers in these areas."
Last year, Rainier -- which competes against Comcast, CenturyLink and Wave Broadband -- began projecting its existing FTTP offerings and bandwidth increases, and what it would need to retain and gain customers, Miller said. The service provider quickly realized a transport network using 10 Gbit/s increments would not suffice nor would it deliver the simplicity and scale of a higher capacity solution, he said. The service provider then began seeking the right technology partner.
The Rural Utilities Service (RUS), an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), partly funded the project. RUS administers programs that provide infrastructure or infrastructure improvements to rural communities via public-private partnerships.
"The old network was a bit outdated, and could not keep up with the traffic demands Rainier was facing with its many services -- Internet, cable, telephony," said Tony Gomez, vice president of Business Development for ECI North America, in an interview. "The network upgrade not only provided the additional capacity needed by Rainier, it also updated the infrastructure making it more future ready."
After soliciting bids from several 100 Gbit/s transport solution vendors, Rainier chose ECI's Apollo family of products; several bid participants did not have a market-ready 100 Gbit/s offering, while others "really pressured us towards a 10 Gbit/s solution," said Miller. This marked the first time the two companies worked together.
"Now that we are turning up customers and witnessing an increase in utilization, we are quite relieved that we moved forward with ECI," he said. "It is very evident now that a 10Gbps transport solution would have been a short-sighted decision limiting our growth or would have made adding capacity more challenging."
Regardless of location, customers require ultra-broadband infrastructure to support bandwidth-hungry applications, said ECI's Gomez.
"Today, in the consumer sphere, video is the primary driver of bandwidth consumption. For businesses, the applications vary as cloud networking and mobility are driving the need for always-on access from everywhere at any time," he said. "Ultra-broadband is becoming the new norm. As consumers we expect it, and businesses require it on a daily basis for their business needs. The days of 256 Kbps and even 1 GB are behind us as we become accustomed to ever higher speeds. [That] is true of rural as well as city networks. The difference between rural and urban markets is in the number of people relying on the network at a given time, not the types of services or applications they consume."
— Alison Diana, Editor, UBB2020. Follow us on Twitter @UBB2020 or @alisoncdiana.