Council Calls for Further Research on Community Broadband Network Project
Project Manager Estevan Gonzales, left, and IT Manager Laura Gonzales, center, presented an informational update on the Community Broadband Network project to County Council March 12. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Project Manager Estevan Gonzales, left, and IT Manager Laura Gonzales presented an informational update on the Community Broadband Network project to County Council at the March 12 work session in White Rock.
At the conclusion of the work session County Council provided direction to County staff to conduct further research on items such as project phasing, public/private partnerships and alternative forms of project financing to name a few.
The Community Broadband Network (CBN) project was initiated April 19, 2011 and the presentation of the CBN business plan to County Council is the final deliverable for the study project.
Since the last presentation to Council, where the design was 95% complete, comments from the independent review of the network design have been incorporated and the design has been finalized.
The majority of the work in the last six months has been to complete the CBN Business Plan. A comprehensive approach was taken in the development of the business plan that was based upon the network design and included market research, the business model and the financial model to complete the Community Broadband Network Design and Business Plan.
CBN has been designed to provide a secure, reliable and dedicated 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) fiber-optic connection to every residence and business in Los Alamos County (ca. 8,610 premises.)
CBN also is designed to provide County citizens with access to basic local community services such as library, recreation, permit, public safety and utilities resources.
In addition, CBN is designed to provide County citizens with a broadband marketplace to purchase ultra-fast Internet, telephone and high definition video services from the service provider of their choice.
The CBN business model is based on "Open Access" principles where Los Alamos County would serve as the wholesale network operator, not a retail service provider. Retail service providers would purchase wholesale network services from CBN thereby allowing any qualifying service provider to have equal and fair access to CBN services.
Market Research was conducted on many different occasions to aid in the development of the business plan. Telephone, online and in-person survey instruments were used to gauge community opinion.
Research & Polling, Inc. conducted random telephone surveys with quotas that were set for certain demographics that tend to be undercounted. This methodology ensured a representative sample of the community. In addition, this market research was more conservative and contained detailed demographic data.
Meetings with service providers were conducted to explore potential public/private partnerships as well as to determine level of interest in CBN. This research was cross-referenced with broader national trends from the Fiber to the Home Council to provide quantitative analysis for projecting anticipating subscription rates.
Key Market Research Findings:
- Research & Polling found that 51 percent of the community would support a 5/16th increase in GRT while 29 percent opposed the increment.
- More than 50 percent of residents and businesses indicate they are likely to subscribe to Internet service from a CBN provider whereas 19 percent would not.
- Residents who say they would be likely to use Internet service through the proposed network would be willing to pay a monthly average of $42.60 for this service.
- More residents support tiered services that cost less than $80/month, while more residents oppose those that cost more than $80/month.
- Businesses that say they would be likely to use Internet service through the proposed network would be willing to pay a monthly average of $112.20 for this service.
- Of those citizens that would subscribe to a 50Mbps service, approximately half would subscribe to a greater speed than 50Mbps.
- 37 percent of residents support an amendment to the County Charter to include telecommunications while 35 percent of residents oppose the amendment.
- Approximately 56 percent of residents believe in proceeding with CBN while 33 percent are opposed.
- Multiple retail service providers expressed interest in offering tiered Internet services on CBN.