I'm attending F2C 2009 in Silver Spring Maryland. If you are here, please say hello.
Things are just getting started with a panel on Municipal Networks, led by Joanne Hovis, President of Columbia Telecommunications Corporation (CTC). Panelists are:
Lev Gonick, CIO Case Western Reserve, who was a key player in creating a 4000 mile fiber network for Cleveland and northeast Ohio under a community organization called OneCommunity.
Bill Schrier, CTO for Seattle, which is starting a fiber project, but already has it's own electric power utility. (Although Bill implies they have had to drag their utility brethren into this).
What's interesting is the discussion on the chat backchannel is not about muni vs. commercial, but wireless versus fiber.
Tim Nulty has a strong argument that wireless is excellent for mobility, but not economical for fixed access. In rural Vermont, a WiMAX network would cost $35M if you could get access to the spectrum (which is being horded by others). Fiber would cost $70M but has 50 times the capacity and several times the revenue potential versus the wireless approach. Further, if you deploy wireless as an addon after you have the fiber network (and the customer support infrastructure), the incremental cost is dramitcally less (perhaps $10M) and you get enough incremental revenue to get a good return on investment. IN other words, you make more money if you do fiber first. Tim's key to success is to get as near complete deployment as possible - something that is possible in areas where the incumbents are going. Second, he goes for community ventures as a way to qualify for muncipal bonds.