Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Would you like to own and install fiber to your home?

There are many examples of municipal ownership of access networks, but ownership and control could also be pushed out to home and building owners.

Wu and Slater discuss this alternative in a recent paper and a test is underway in downtown Ottawa, Canada, where fiber has been deployed to serve a 400–home neighborhood, but a service provider has not yet signed on.

The Norwegian telecommunication company Lyse Tele reports that 80% of their 130,000 customers have agreed to dig their own trenches and bury their own fiber in exchange for a discount on installation. This has been good for business -- only .2% of customers who have installed their own fiber switch to another service provider.

While this sounds good, there are questions. Who owns the fiber, Lyse Tele or the home owner? Who controls the fiber -- can their customers reach competing services or are they locked in to Lyse Tele?

I have seen estimates that it costs Verizon about $1,000 to connect a home. I would gladly pay that if it meant I owned and controlled the fiber and could get connectivity from competing ISPs over it. I would consider it an investment -- increasing the value of my house -- not an expense.

I own my own sewer, water and gas lines and call a plumber when there is a problem. I would be happy to own my fiber.