Filling up the toolbox

Google Fiber’s announcement today is one in a trend — cities now have nearly limitless tools to bring fiber home

In the past, it appeared that communities seeking better broadband had limited options. The tools available were rather imperfect: you could wait for a local provider to upgrade its network, persuade a private company to invest, or build it yourself. But not every community presents an attractive business case for a traditional, incumbent telecom carrier or a new private entrant, and not every community is willing or able to design, construct, operate, market and finance a fiber broadband network on their own.

Fortunately, as local leaders and private companies have undertaken the complex process of planning, financing, and deploying fiber, innovative public-private partnerships and models have emerged. And they are gaining momentum. Picking the right one for any one community depends on local history, preferences, assets and opportunities and ultimately, on how each community and its providers choose to balance risk with control over the network. But now communities have far more tools in their toolboxes.

There is, as I have said many times, no one-size-fits-all solution. But there are now more models than ever to choose from. A new paper from the Coalition for Local Internet Choice published last week helps walk communities through the myriad of options and offers us examples of how these partnerships are at work in communities today, from Westminster, Md. to Champaign-Urbana, Il. to Winthrop, Mn. You can hear the experiences of all of these communities — and many others — at our upcoming regional conference in Chicago on March 30 and 31.

When it comes to building essential all-fiber broadband networks, communities must be encouraged and empowered to attract whatever provider may come their way. That’s why we’re excited by Google’s announcement that they will be partnering with the city of Huntsville, Al. to bring their fiber product to that community. The model, whereby a private provider will lease access to the city’s existing fiber is a win — for city services, for consumers and for Google.

We’ve seen first hand what communities lit up by fiber can do. We at the Fiber to the Home Council are encouraged by this expansion of innovative tools for furthering deployment in all-fiber infrastructure and will continue to support additional efforts to bring fiber home.