Executive Summary

One of the significant challenges facing network operators today is the high capital cost of deploying next generation broadband network to individual homes or schools. Fiber to the home only makes economic sense for a relatively small percentage of homes or schools. One solution is a novel new approach under development in several jurisdictions around the world is to bundle the cost of next generation broadband Internet with the deployment of solar panels on the owners roof or through the sale of renewable energy to the homeowner. Rather than charging customers directly for the costs of deployment of the high speed broadband network theses costs instead are amortized over several years as a small discount on the customer’s Feed in Tariff (FIT) or renewable energy bill. There are many companies such as Solar City that will fund the entire capital cost of deploying solar panels on the roofs of homes or schools, who in turn make their money from the long term sale of the power from the panels to the electrical grid. In addition there are no Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) and Green Bond Funds that will underwrite the cost of larger installations.

For further information and detailed business analysis please contact Bill St. Arnaud at bill.st.arnaud@gmail.com.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Consortium of 30+ universities to build next generation community broadband

[Here is a great example of how universities and R&E networks can play a critical national leadership role in the deployment of national broadband and help break the current broadband duopoly which is constraining innovation and economic growth.
Universities and R&E networks are the only ones outside the telcos and cablecos who have the knowledge and experience on deploying high speed networks and have demonstrated many times in the past the ability to deploy radically new architectures and business models that significantly reduce the cost of broadband – both wired and wireless. Examples include customer owned dark fiber, IP over glass, integrated Wifi/3G, Open Lightpath Exchanges, Green IT etc. It is also interesting to note that almost of the major Internet developments originated in this community including the Internet itself, the web, IXs, etc. Many universities are also the size of small cities and thus are great testbeds for innovative new approaches to broadband. The only challenge I would give Gig.U besides identifying new applications is also to identify new business models to underwrite the costs of next generation broadband – many of which I have blogged about in the past such as free fiber to the home, homes with tails, etc . Excerpts from Scientific American article– BSA]


Need Blazing Fast Internet? Gig.U Is Now in Session
A consortium of more than 30 universities plans to invest in the infrastructure to improve Internet speeds 1,000-fold

GIGABIT INTERNET Gig.U's goal is to accelerate the deployment of next-generation networks in the U.S. by encouraging the development of new applications and services that can make use of ultrafast data transfer rates.
In the not-too-distant future broadband speeds will be measured in gigabits per second rather than megabits per second, the former being 1,000 times faster than the latter. Such blazing fast data transmission will vastly improve the quality of streaming high-definition video, playing online video games, participating in video conferences and using voice over IP, all of which struggle with latency at today's average data transfer rates, which range from less than one megabit per second (Mbps) to 10 Mbps (pdf). The sticking point over gigabit-per-second broadband: who will pay for it?
Telecommunications companies, still stinging from the financial beating they took a decade ago after hastily building up capacity for Internet companies that soon went out of business, have been leery ever since of investing in infrastructure unless they are certain there is a demand for it. Most customers, many of them still exploring the wonders of YouTube and for the most part content to simply use e-mail and social networks, are not demanding, nor are they willing to pay a premium for, service that moves information at 1 billion bits per second.
The exception lies at the seat of learning—universities and research institutes that can find a way to use any extra bit of speed that their ISPs can provide. With the federal government in no position at the moment to invest heavily in the National Broadband Plan introduced by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last year, more than 30 universities and counting have taken the matter into their own hands, forming the University Community Next Generation Innovation Project, more commonly referred to as Gig.U. Members include schools across the country—from the University of Alaska down to the University of Florida at Gainesville.
Gig.U's goal is to accelerate the deployment of next-generation networks in the U.S. by encouraging researchers—students and professors alike—to develop new applications and services that can make use of ultrafast data transfer rates. Imagine downloading two HD movies in less than a minute or expanding the use of video conferencing and Webcasting without worrying about latency issues that today pixilate images and freeze streaming video.
The most interesting uses are yet to come, according to Gig.U organizers, who want to extend gigabit-speed networks beyond campuses and into the surrounding college communities where students and professors live. College communities make sense as test beds for gigabit networks because they include highly concentrated population of heavy Internet users as well as institutions already connected to Internet2, National LambdaRail (NLR) and other high-speed Internet backbones, says Gig.U Program Director Elise Kohn, a former policy advisor in the FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau. "If you look at a lot of our international competitors in the research community, we think our researchers will be left behind without gigabit speeds," she says.
The gigabit networks will vary from site to site, depending on the approach that different ISPs propose to meet the differing needs of Gig.U members. "All of our members are focused on next-generation networks, although some will need more than a gigabit while others will need less," Kohn says. Gig.U is holding a request for information (RFI) from September to November to solicit ideas from the local service providers for building out new networks, which would ultimately be funded by Gig.U members as well as any non-profits and private-sector companies interested in the project.
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