Northwestern Indiana Telephone Company (NITCO) has set its gigabit network sights on a seemingly unlikely target: The first taker of gigabit-level service on the carrier's ultra-high-speed fiber network is a farm.
The farm in question, however, is not quite as rural as it might sound. Fair Oaks Farms seems as much agrarian amusement park as working farm, complete with exhibits like The Pig Adventure, Making Milk and even a Birthing Barn where visitors can watch cows being born [ed. note: ewwww]. According to NITCO, Fair Oaks Farms will use gigabit broadband to remotely monitor milk production and processing, as well as to support video-enabled dairy, pork and crop learning centers to share knowledge and expertise with other farms and educate school children.
"It was a good opportunity for us to grow," says Gary Gray, CO supervisor for NITCO, presumably with no agricultural pun intended. "That's why we decided to go there."
Providing gigabit connectivity to Fair Oaks Farms is part of NITCO's effort to deliver 75 Mbit/s to 100 Mbit/s broadband service to residential customers and gigabit-speed service to businesses in its region, leveraging a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) platform from Adtran Inc. (Nasdaq: ADTN). The carrier plans to extend that FTTH network to 200 to 300 homes per year of the 15,000 total in its territory, Gray says, quickening the pace as more fiber is deployed and demand ramps up. Any interested businesses, meanwhile, will get gigabit fiber connections as long as they are close enough to the carrier's central offices, says Dan Odle, Level 3 technical engineer for NITCO.
NITCO's pragmatic FTTH and gigabit-to-the-business rollout strategy offers a good example of how regional carriers can leverage the advantages of ultra-high-speed network capabilities in areas where demand for ultra-high-speed broadband may not be ubiquitous without, well, betting the farm. (See 1-Gig: Coming to a Small Town Near You and Sugar Beet Town Gets a Sweet Gig.)
Many of NITCO's business targets, for example, are currently tied up in contracts with other broadband providers. "Right now it's a waiting game," Odle says. "Once some of those contracts are ending, we expect to see more accelerated take rates."
— Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, Light Reading