Monday, April 20, 2009

Four excellent videos on municipal fiber networking

We have discussed infrastructure ownership options, and Benoit Felten has posted four excellent videos on municipal fiber networking. Three are interviews of people who gave talks at the recent Freedom to Connect Conference: Terry Huval, Tim Nulty and Bill St Arnaud. The fourth is a presentation given by Felten in New Zealand last month.

1. Terry Huval, Director of the Lafayette, Louisiana Utility Service fiber to the home project.

Huval discusses the motivation and business model that gave rise to the project, their legal battles (3 years of fighting until the State Supreme Court ruled unanimously in their favor), the services they offer, and the applications they will be offering in the future.

2. Tim Nulty, Project Director, East Central Vermont Community Fiber Network (ECFiber).

ECFiber plans to build rural fiber connectivity to 21,866 households in and around 22 Vermont towns. (So far 21% of those households have pre-registered). Nulty presents data on costs and revenue, and concludes that the network is a viable business. They will offer both retail and wholesale Internet service over the network, and he explains why a pure wholesale network like that in Stockholm makes sense in Europe, but would be defeated by the incumbents in the US.

3. Bill St Arnaud, Chief Research Officer at CANARIE, Canada's research network with a mandate to develop next generation networks, applications and services.

St Arnaud describes the "G-commerce" model, which combines connectivity with energy savings and pollution reduction. Installation of fiber to the home will be financed by a 1-2 cent per kilowatt hour increase in electric bills and energy-cap savings from reduced power consumption as high speed communication substitutes for transportation.

4. Benoit Felten, Senior Analyst, Yankee Group.

Felten gives examples from France and the Netherlands showing that network sharing is profitable even for incumbent ISPs. Take-up rate is more important than average revenue per customer, and the fastest way to convert 100% of the population to fiber is sharing it among service providers. He outlines and presents examples of several business models ranging from passive sharing of access and rights of way to offering retail service.