Taking Fiber to the Fancier Farm
Inyo Networks has built a business bringing gigabit services to underserved rural communities in California and Las Vegas, but its latest effort to bring "fiber to the farm" is far from typical. Using a state grant that covers 70% of the construction code, Inyo will build an NG-PON2 network to the Northern California community of Nicasio, which is home to farms but also the luxury lifestyle of the Bay Area's rich and famous.
Those residents actually stepped up as partners to help fund the remaining costs, so that construction is now underway on the network, using Calix Inc. (NYSE: CALX) gear, including its E7 Active Ethernet network and its AXOS NG-PON2 access gear, says Nick Keeler, president and COO at Inyo Networks. Once service is up and running, every customer will have access to one-gig services with the possibility of up to 10 gig services in the future.
"We built the network as Active Ethernet but we put 10gig EPON splitters inside the cabinet as opposed to out in the field, as a way of future-proofing things," Keller says in an interview.
This isn't Inyo's first such network in California with Calix as the two companies team on a suburban Southern California network in Ontario, also funded by a state grant. It's actually the granting process that is the greatest challenge and biggest time suck for these efforts, Keller admits.
"Developing these rural grants take a long time," he says. "Permitting and working with counties and federal agencies -- there's no easy way to do it."
Inyo does seek efficiencies in the construction process including using existing conduit and rights-of-way when possible. Keller says it will still cost roughly $10,000 per home passed to build the network.
Every resident will get a one-gig service and there won't be any caps or throttling, he notes. "It's just easier to give everyone a gig than to try to develop some tiered pricing."
Nicasio residents will pay more -- $89.95 a month -- for their gigabit services than those in Ontario, where the service is $59.95, because the two markets are different. Inyo offers both voice and video services in addition to broadband data but sees only about a 10% take rate for video, which is not surprising given the growing demand for streaming data.
Since video is a break-even proposition for Inyo at best, Keller isn't unhappy with that uptake. In fact, Inyo actively supports its customers' video streaming habits by tracking where its data is going to establish direct peering relationships with the most frequently used content providers such as Netflix.
(Cover image of Skywalker Ranch by Mike McCune, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading
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