Enabling Competition & Innovation on a City Fiber Network
Authored by Paddy Leerssen and David Talbot
This case study of Ammon, Idaho’s city-run fiber-optic network describes an unusual strategy for encouraging retail Internet service competition and innovation. Cities, towns and counties seeking to help their citizens and businesses by building fiber-optic networks may do so under a number of models, including building unused or “dark” fiber and then finding private providers to install network electronics and provide services. By contrast, Ammon decided to take all the steps required to operate the network, then use a technology called network virtualization to make it very easy for retail providers to provide services, which are then presented to users via an online dashboard. In theory, Ammon’s residences and businesses can take multiple services simultaneously, create private networks within Ammon’s city network, and obtain city services and emergency alerts over the network even if they don’t take an Internet access subscription. As of the date of publication, two ISPs have started to provide service, and Ammon itself has developed certain public safety applications. Though at an early stage, the project represents a versatile technological and operational model for other public fiber networks.