It's been four years since Google Fiber has expanded into a new market. Most industry experts though that the Google Fiber "experiment" was likely over. But Google Fiber is back, and its coming to West Des Moines, Iowa.
Last week the City announced that Google Fiber will be the first tenant in a city-wide conduit network that will be built over the next four years. The $40 million city-owned conduit network will be financed using General Obligation Urban Renewal Capital Notes. Google Fiber will pay the City $2.25 per month for each fiber connection on the network and would be responsible for placing the fiber in the conduit to serve consumers.
In some ways the arrangement is similar to what has been done in Lincoln, Nebraska. In Lincoln the City built a conduit network and is leasing that conduit to CBAN provider member ALLO Communications so it can provide fiber-to-the-home services. But it's a new model of operations in Iowa where most city investment in broadband has come through construction and operation of a complete network, fiber and all.
City officials say that while Google Fiber will be the first occupant of the conduit network, it's arrangement is not exclusive.
There's been plenty of press about the announcement. Click on the links below to read more.
Des Moines Register: West Des Moines Set To Become Iowa's First Google Fiber City
Telecompetitor: "Google Fiber Awakens, Coming To Iowa"
Light Reading: "Google Fiber Returns to Expansion Mode Through City Pact"
It's interesting to note that despite the big media splash, West Des Moines residents will certainly not be among the first in Iowa to have gigabit fiber access. In fact, parts of West Des Moines and Waukee already have FTTP from Mi-Fiber, a subsidiary of GRM Networks. Other Iowa communities with access to gigabit+ fiber networks from municipal providers:
In addition to these, CBAN member ImOn Communications is building FTTP in Iowa City and Dubuque; MetroNet Fiber is building fiber networks in Ames, Davenport, and Bettendorf. And numerous small communities in Iowa are already served by fiber as a result of investment by independent telecommunications companies such as cooperatives and mutuals.
Across America, rural electric cooperatives are investing in fiber networks to help close the digital divide and provide access to smart grid capabilities. We'll focus on that topic for our next CBAN Lunch and Learn on Tuesday, July 14th at 12:00pm CDT.
We are excited to have two guests with deep knowledge of rural electrics' involvement in broadband. Steve Collier with Conexon will talk about the state of play in REC broadband efforts. Christopher Mitchell from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance will discuss trends - and barriers - for continued fiber investment by rural electric cooperatives.
Click the button below to register!
CBAN would like to welcome our newest Vendor Member, Huntel Consulting!
Huntel Consulting provides a wide range of services to its clients, including:
We welcome CEO Justyn Miller, COO Mick Herke, and Director of Operations Gaila Hayes to the CBAN family!
Cedar Falls Utilities received major recognition last week as PC Magazine named them the fastest ISP (internet service provider) in America.
The designation comes from PC Magazine, which does an annual assessment of the fastest ISP's in the United States based on individual speed tests. In order to qualify for the rankings, an ISP must have at least 100 submissions using the PC Magazine speed test.
The magazine's editors couldn't find enough good things to say about CFU, one of the first municipal telecommunications providers in Iowa.
Cedar Falls Utilities (CFU) out of Cedar Falls, Iowa, has the fastest average PCMag Speed Index we've ever seen. Even individual towns with fast speeds were never capable of this in our previous tests. (Pick your jaw up off the floor so you can start searching Zillow for house listings there.) Its PSI of 1,350.4 shows what's possible when your state doesn't block municipal ISPs that are part of a town/city utility. (They are blocked in about half of the US.)
CLICK HERE to read the complete article by PC Magazine. And congratulations to Cedar Falls Utilities for this well-earned recognition!
After several weeks of offering service to beta testers, the Vinton Municipal Communications Utility (iVinton) is now fully operational.
The final pieces of the puzzle to come into place were billing system integration and IPTV. Once those steps were finalized in early June, it was full speed ahead with service installations, which have now reached over 100 and increasing by 40 or so per week. Another landmark was reached last week: the first bills were mailed to customers.
iVinton conversion contractor Patriot Communications (a CBAN Vendor Member) has their work cut out for them - over 700 Vinton homes and businesses have already placed product orders. Several hundred more requested a service drop and are expected to make the switch in the coming months.
After several months of preliminary research and investigation, the City of Fort Dodge (a CBAN Community member) has hired HR Green to conduct a feasibility study for a possible city-owned fiber-to-the-home network.
HR Green (a CBAN Vendor Member) will spend the next three months putting together a preliminary design and cost estimate for a city-owned fiber network as well as a business case that establishes if such a city network is feasible.
In parallel, the City will be conducting a partner identification process. During this process, the City will seek to identify private companies that would be interested in some level of partnership with the City for operation of a gigabit network. The Request for Information for that partnership identification will be released later this week.
The next edition of CBAN's "Lunch and Learn" webinar series will explore the use of New Market Tax Credits (NMTC) as a financing source for community broadband projects.
New Market Tax Credits for Broadband Projects
June 23, 2020
CLICK HERE to register (free and open to CBAN members and non-members)
Moderator: Shawnna Silvius, Montgomery County Development Corp
Panelists: Myriam Simmons, Ryan; Jonathan Klassen, Rural Development Partners
Session summary: Many companies find it challenging to manage and take advantage of the ever-changing tax issues and opportunities available surrounding federal tax credits incentives in a timely manner. The mechanics of a NMTC transaction are complex. Several parties are involved in the transaction, allocation needs to be identified, and credit price and agreements negotiated, multiple meetings to be coordinated, and an eventual unwind of the transaction at the completion of the NMTC holding period. This session will help attendees navigate through this tough terrain with best practices and strategies with “real world” applications.
After attending the session, the attendee will be able to:
Pella Fiber, the new municipal fiber-to-the-home network in Pella, Iowa is now under construction. Crews from the principal outside plant contractor Excel Utility Contractors began work this week in the central Iowa community of just over 10,000
Construction started almost two years after a public referendum that saw 91% of voters approving of the new utility. This spring Pella began accepting pre-applications from households and residents wanting a service drop, and already over 1,400 premises have signed up. The City of Pella also operates municipal electric and water utilities.
Construction of the outside plant will continue throughout 2020. The City hopes to begin hooking up customers by the spring of 2021.
Good news...the 2020 IAMU Broadband Conference has been RESCHEDULED! The new dates for the annual event, cancelled in March due to COVID-19, are Wednesday, November 4 and Thursday, November 5, 2020. The event will still be held at the Holiday Inn Des Moines Airport as previously scheduled.
As a result of the rescheduling, IAMU will be adjusting its annual broadband meeting schedule. Moving forward and starting this year, the annual broadband conference will be held in late fall. The Fall Broadband meeting will become the Spring Broadband meeting and be held in late spring 2021.
For now, mark the dates on your calendar. Full registration information will be posted on the IAMU website soon. We hope to see you all in November (if not sooner!).
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every area of our lives. And it is impacting operations and policies of many Iowa municipal broadband providers.
Several municipal broadband providers are limiting public access to their customer service centers to protect their employees and the public from the spread of the virus. Cedar Falls Utilities for example will still have customer service personnel available to answer questions, handle billing questions and taking payments electronically, etc. during normal business hours. But customers will not be able to enter their customer service center.
“In the interest of the safety and well-being of our customers and staff, we are closing our office to the public and asking certain employees to work from home,” said CFU General Manager Steve Bernard. “As COVID-19 continues to spread across the country, we feel compelled to practice social distancing and do our part to slow transmission.” - CFU General Manager Steve Bernard (news release on CFU website)
Closing the office to walk-in traffic is one of the most common responses to COVID-19. And email request and a quick review of websites show that Waverly Utilities, the City of Bellevue, Alta Municipal Utilities, Osage Municipal Utilities, Spencer Municipal Utilities, Indianola Municipal Utilities, Algona Municipal Utilities, Harlan Municipal Utilities, Muscatine Power & Water, and likely others are restricting public access to their facilities.
The virus is also limiting or ending technician visits to customers' homes or businesses. Most Iowa municipals have cancelled or rescheduled service calls for new service. Work that can be done outside the home or business without direct contact with customers continues, for the most part, to continue as normal.
Across the industry, most broadband providers have adjusted policies and hours to comply with advisories from public health officials. And in recognition of the needs of customers who may be isolated in their homes for weeks or longer, some providers have taken additional steps, such as removing data caps, increasing speeds temporarily, or suspending non-pay disconnections.
Broadband Bytes News
Presented by the Community Broadband Action Network and curated by Curtis Dean.