& cplSiteName &

Taking a Different Path to 1 Gigabit

Mari Silbey
6/11/2014
50%
50%

The non-profit organization Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband (UC2B) took an important step recently in its efforts to extend development of the Illinois region's gigabit Internet services.

It turned the UC2B fiber network over to a commercial entity.

UC2B partnered with video and broadband company iTV-3 in a deal that has the private firm taking on management of UC2B's existing fiber network and extending the broadband infrastructure to new communities in the Urbana-Champaign area. According to Director of Operations Sabrina Gosnell, once UC2B hands the project to iTV-3, her organization will have the freedom to "start thinking about how to really incorporate this network and this partnership in the community in a way that bolsters things like healthcare and education."

However, Gosnell also acknowledged that UC2B, which only established itself as an official non-profit in late 2013 (after existing as an intergovernmental consortium), may not retain any staff after the iTV-3 transition. The organization does have a nine-member Board of Directors who will stay involved in the broadband initiative even if no paid staffers remain.

So why did UC2B decide to turn its fiber network over to i-TV3? Gosnell said in an interview that the twin cities of Urbana and Champaign never planned on running a broadband service over the long term. "I don't think that was really ever on the table, frankly."

Instead, UC2B had every intention of fulfilling the terms of the broadband grants it received in 2010 (which were supplemented by more than $3 million in local matching funds), and then finding a partner in the private sector to carry the project forward.

Even as UC2B started an expansion drive in 2012 to finish the fiber buildout it had begun two years earlier, the organization began looking for a potential service partner by issuing a public Request for Information (RFI). The RFI went out in August 2012, and over the following year, UC2B accepted submissions from a wide range of respondents.

The process was enlightening.

By September 2013 when UC2B's fiber network was complete, one of the companies that had responded to the RFI was already out of business, and several others clearly didn't meet UC2B's minimum requirements. "[The partner] had to be a company that would adhere to our core values," said Gosnell.

That meant three things. Any partner had to agree to: use fiber to continue network expansion; make service available to any local community wishing to participate in the broadband program; and make access to the UC2B network available to other Internet service providers on a wholesale model.

In addition, UC2B needed a partner that would remain viable as a company and be able to fund continuing expansion on its own.

UC2B didn't share details on all of the companies that responded to its RFI, but the organization did explicitly say that it had reached out to local ISPs including AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), as well as to Google (Nasdaq: GOOG). Among those service providers, there was very little interest in the project. Of the local service providers, Gosnell said "[I] don't know that we were ever even a blip on their radar."

Luckily for UC2B, iTV-3 did respond to the RFI, and the company had significant advantages weighing in its favor. The company is local to Illinois. It has a track record as an Internet service provider. And it was willing to agree to all of UC2B's partnership terms.

Gosnell described iTV-3 as "the right fit for us." Within two months of finishing network construction, UC2B was already in serious talks with iTV-3.

Going forward, iTV-3 will lease UC2B's fiber network and equipment and will spend "tens of millions of dollars" expanding service to new areas across Urbana and Champaign. In any established sector in the region, if 50% of locations sign up for Internet service, iTV-3 must begin construction to extend network access within 120 days.

Initially, iTV-3 will offer Internet and phone service over the UC2B fiber network, and the company has "committed to offering a gigabit Internet service as the top tier" of its residential offerings. iTV-3 plans to add on television service as well, but the company will have to negotiate franchise agreements in order to do so.

According to UC2B, the deal with iTV-3 is an unprecedented public-private partnership. Indeed it does illustrate that there are multiple ways to bring gigabit broadband to a community, particularly when there aren't state laws in place barring municipal broadband projects. (See FCC's Mignon Bashes Anti-Muni Bills.)

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler also praised the initiative saying, "This public-private partnership provides a valuable model for communities and companies throughout the country and a demonstration of the creativity that is stimulated when localities are free to work with the private sector to improve broadband offerings."

Other cities, meanwhile, are trying different methods. Among existing gigabit regions across the US, some cities are partnering with Google for Google Fiber Inc. , and some are starting to see gigabit service from traditional ISPs such as AT&T and Cox Communications Inc. (See AT&T Turns Up Gig Heat in 21 New Metros and Cox Lays Out Gigabit Roadmap .)

In Chattanooga, Tenn., the community-owned utility EPB Fiber Optics has successfully deployed a gigabit network and is now using it not only for residential services, but also to power the city's smart grid communications. In North Carolina, the North Carolina Next Generation Network initiative is combining the efforts of six municipalities and four universities to turn the Research Triangle area into a gigabit community. (See Power Companies Promise Gigabit Broadband and TWC Bids on NC's Next-Gen Network.)

There is also a growing contingent of small telecom companies building out their own gigabit networks to improve local broadband service. (See Gigabit Speeds Come to Rock Hill.)

There is no one tried-and-true formula for bringing high-capacity broadband service to every American city. Instead, as UC2B and others are proving, there are multiple ways to pursue the same gigabit goal. It's still a messy market, but there are some notable examples of successful ventures.

UC2B looks like it could be one of them.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
NEXT COURSE
Wednesday, August 3, 1:00PM EDT
The Central Office Re-Architected as a Data Center
Guru Parulkar, Executive Director, Open Networking Research Center, Open Networking Lab
UPCOMING COURSE SCHEDULE
Wednesday, August 10, 1:00PM EDT
Telcos & Open Source 101
Phil Robb, Senior Technical Director, OpenDaylight
Friday, August 12, 1:00PM EDT
The Role of Open Source in NFV
Jim Fagan, Director, Cloud Practice, Telstra
Wednesday, August 17, 1:00PM EDT
Using Open Source for Data Centers and Cloud Services
Roz Roseboro, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading
in association with:
From The Founder
In the first episode of a four-part series, Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders and Calix President and CEO Carl Russo drive around town discussing the disruptive mega-changes in the communications industry and where hope lies for service providers to meet the escalating demands of the cloud.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Fujitsu Sales Leader Shares Lessons Learned

7|27|16   |   5:12   |   (0) comments


As Fujitsu's only female sales leader, Annie Bogue knows the importance of asking for what you want, being flexible (she's been relocated five times), keeping a meticulous calendar, 'leaning in,' working harder than everyone else around you, being aware and more.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
VeEX Test & Measurement Solutions

7|25|16   |   08:57   |   (0) comments


Cyrille Morelle, president and CEO of VeEX Inc., talks test and measurement with Light Reading's Steve Saunders at BCE 2016. This includes innovative products such as VeSion Cloud-Based platform for network monitoring; MTTplus Modular Test platform for Access, Business, Carrier Ethernet, Transport and Core services; and OPX-BOX+ for Fiber Optics.
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX: Live From BCE 2016

7|25|16   |   03:20   |   (0) comments


VeEX's Senior Director of Business Development, Perry Romano, explains how VeEX provides tools to help install, maintain, monitor and manage network infrastructure efficiently and effectively. The portfolio of products on display include the RXT-6000, MTTplus and TX300s.
LRTV Custom TV
Real-Time Telemetry & Analytics for Intelligent SDN Orchestration

7|25|16   |   03:09   |   (0) comments


Packet Design CEO Scott Sherwood discusses how real-time network telemetry and analytics are enabling a new breed of SDN orchestration applications.
From the Founder
The Russo Report: Driving Disruption

7|25|16   |   07:44   |   (0) comments


In the first episode of a four-part series, Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders and Calix President and CEO Carl Russo drive around town discussing the disruptive mega-changes in the communications industry and where hope lies for service providers to meet the escalating demands of the cloud.
LRTV Custom TV
NetScout: Maximizing Enterprise Cloud for Digital Transformation

7|20|16   |   04:53   |   (0) comments


Light Reading Editor Mitch Wagner talks to NetScout CMO Jim McNiel about maximizing the benefits of enterprise cloud and digital transformation while minimizing potential pitfalls with a proper monitoring and instrumentation strategy.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Ciena's VP Offers a Career Crash Course

7|20|16   |   4:14   |   (2) comments


How did Ciena's Vice President of Sales, Angela Finn, carve out her career path? Simple, she tells WiC. She stayed true to her company, customers and principles. She shares her advice for women on how to be authentic and credible, as well as for companies that want to make a real change to their culture and practices.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV in 2016: Part 2 – Climbing the Virtualization Maturity Curve

7|19|16   |   06:56   |   (0) comments


Many of the initial use case implementations are single-vendor and self-contained. The industry is still climbing the virtualization maturity curve, needing further clarity and stability in the NFV infrastructure (NFVi) and greater availability and choice of virtualized network functions (VNFs). Interoperability between NFVis and VNFs from different vendors ...
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Versa Networks' Kumar Mehta on SD-WAN Managed Services

7|19|16   |     |   (0) comments


In Silicon Valley, Steve Saunders sits down with Versa's Kumar Mehta for an interview focused on why service providers are building SD-WAN managed services, and how Versa's telco customers are innovating.
LRTV Custom TV
Juniper Networks & The Evolution of NFV

7|19|16   |   06:01   |   (0) comments


Senior Juniper Networks executives talk to Light Reading Founder & CEO Steve Saunders about NFV developments and the recent independent evaluation by test lab EANTC of Juniper's Cloud CPE solution.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink Goes Beyond Managed WiFi

7|19|16   |     |   (0) comments


CenturyLink's managed WiFi allows enterprises, such as retailers and resorts, to track guest WiFi usage in order to help them better communicate with customers.
LRTV Interviews
AT&T Launches Network Functions on Demand

7|17|16   |   05:26   |   (0) comments


Roman Pacewicz, Senior Vice President, Offer Management & Service Integration, AT&T Business Solutions, discusses the operator's launch of its Network Functions on Demand service.
Upcoming Live Events
September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
September 27, 2016, Philadelphia, PA
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 6-8, 2016,
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Five of the Top 10 most targeted countries in Check Point Software Technologies' global Malware & Threat Index for Q1 2016 are in Africa.
Hot Topics
Verizon Sports Big Plans for Yahoo
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 7/26/2016
Verizon's Next With VNFs
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 7/21/2016
Yahoo Signing Off in $4.83B Sale to Verizon
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 7/25/2016
Ericsson Board Has Been Asleep at the Wheel – Consultant
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 7/25/2016
Ericsson Ejects CEO Vestberg
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 7/25/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
There's no question that, come 2020, 5G technology will turn the world's conception of what mobile networking is on its head. Within the world of 5G development, Dr. ...
I've enjoyed interviewing many interesting people since I rejoined Light Reading, but William A. "Bill" Owens certainly takes the biscuit, as we say where I come from.
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Our world has evolved through innovation from the Industrial Revolution of the 1740s to the information age, and it is now entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by technology. Technology is driving a paradigm shift in the way digital solutions deliver a connected world, changing the way we live, communicate and provide solutions. It can have a powerful impact on how we tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems. In this radio show, Caroline Dowling, President of Communications Infrastructure & Enterprise Computing at Flex, will join Women in Comms Director Sarah Thomas to discuss the impact technology has on society and how it can be a game-changer across the globe; improving lives and creating a smarter world. Dowling, a Cork, Ireland, native and graduate of Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program, will also discuss her experience managing an international team focused on innovation in an age of high-speed change.