Jackson, Wyoming will soon be home to an open-access, fiber-to-the-home network (OAN) with a twist. What makes this network, SilverLight, unique is that is privately owned and operated, allowing the citizens of Jackson to receive the benefits of the OAN approach, without the risks of a publicly-built network.
As background, the open-access last-mile broadband network concept has been around for decades. The concept is typically associated with a public entity owning the last-mile infrastructure, while private ISPs provide connection to the end-consumer. Adoption in the U.S. has been limited to a handful of communities.
One of those communities is Idaho Falls, where the network is owned and operated by the local public power utility, Idaho Falls Power. Idaho Falls Fiber provides the last-mile connection, allowing ISPs to access and compete for customers. Silver Star Communications is one of the ISP tenants on the Idaho Falls Fiber network.
The Jackson OAN Opportunity
As Silver Star Communications CEO and Chairman, Allen Hoopes, describes it, the Silver Star team sees the private OAN approach, embodied in their SilverLight effort, as an opportunity to work with rural communities desperate for broadband access. Silver Star brings its experience as a Wyoming-based provider, along with its construction skills as a contractor to ensure a three-year build-out.
Advantages of this approach from a community’s perspective, include:
- No public funding.
- The community doesn’t have to
- create an organization to build and manage an FTTH network and make the middle-mile connections to peering points,
- market the network to attract ISPs,
- maintain and upgrade the network to keep it state-of-the-art.
- Plus, the community receives the benefits of an OAN, including,
- the choice of multiple ISPs
- dig-once benefits of not having to continually touch physical infrastructure to add new ISPs.
At the same time, as a customer of these networks, Silver Star sees opportunities to improve the experience for the various ISPs that will populate the network. As an independent provider, Silver Star already has business relationships with other ISPs that could be potential tenants on this new network.
The above interview with Hoopes provides just a glimpse of the opportunity and challenges around this approach that will, hopefully, be brought out in a future discussion. As Hoopes alludes to, this OAN approach of a public entity working with an experienced private provider could also prove to be an effective, efficient, and timely way to maximize BEAD and other broadband funding sources.
Thanks to Calix for making the above video possible.