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Fiber 'OSPN' Overview

A one page description of fiber 'open service provider networks' by Richard Lowenberg.

Fiber Open Service Provider Networks (OSPNs)

(Draft Overview)

Some early adopter municipalities are seriously looking at alternatives that can bring true high-speed broadband networks to their communities; networks that will improve the local tax base, retain and attract residents and business owners, and deliver convergent broadband services at significantly reduced costs.

The incumbent regional Bell operating companies (RBOCs) and multiple service operators (MSOs) are strongly opposing municipal fiber projects, at present.  Yet no initiative currently proposed by an incumbent permits high capacity services (such as HD-IPTV), and none provides an open network infrastructure.   The incumbents retain the power and incentive to block access to many broadband Internet services to their regional customers, in direct threat to the very future of the Internet and to our social and economic aspirations.

Community-owned fiber optic OSPNs can now bring about the availability of true broadband connections, service provider independence, economic vitalization and life enhancing services to local residents and businesses.

OSPNs are based on a business model that places ownership of high scalable-bandwidth networks in the hands of localities, while offering wholesale broadband content from competitive service carriers.

OSPNs overcome the monopolistic forces of incumbent carriers by allowing a community to make its network infrastructure available to as many competing third-party service and content providers as possible.   This results in greater subscriber choice and true broadband capacity at significantly reduced, non-tiered pricing.   Subscribers pay for services, content and applications (convergent voice, video and data), not asynchronous bandwidth. 

This open and wholesale approach, combined with carrier-class reliability, extreme high capacity, and a standards-based open architecture, can now provide needed community Internetworking infrastructure.

Fiber offers economies of scale, in part because the cost of transporting additional units of use is very small due to its high capacity.   For example, access to a selection of 100 simultaneous video channels at high definition (HD) digital rates of 20Mbps per channel, requires 2 Gbps capacity.

High capacity fiber infrastructure is necessary for and will motivate the creation of more content by media industries and Internet web developers; additionally promoting ever more sophisticated search engines.   Symmetric high-bandwidth capacity to local businesses and homes also catalyzes greater end-user created content and shared information, often with valued local relevance, unable to be provided from outside the community.

OSPNs would promote the creation, provision and access to numerous services, including a wide range of entertainment; arts and culture; science research; distance education and lifelong learning; healthcare (telemedicine, remote diagnosis and consultation); environmental and civic planning, simulation and decision-support; commerce; economic development; emergency response services and national security.

Fiber OSPNs can also provide the backbone for extended wireless neighborhood networks and ‘hot spots’; as well as for social and digital divide-bridging community networking initiatives, which would provide end-user classes, locally developed and shared open source applications, subsidized services for nonprofits and community organizations, and public access sites.

The numbers work.   The paybacks on initial investments in 'open' fiber networks are such that within a few short years, communities can begin generating incomes that help pay for other much needed local infrastructure and services (transportation, water, housing, and other economic development programs); truly 'smart community' planning.

Dynamic City's Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency (UTOPIA), the largest municipal fiber network initiative in the U.S., with 14 initial cities and 160,000 potential subscribers, offers connections of 100 Mbps - 1Gbps (and more) of symmetrical bandwidth, for less than $1 per Mbps per month to subscribers.

PacketFront, the largest ‘open’ fiber provider in Europe, is now offering full (level 3) OSPN systems and services in the U.S.

At the forefront of municipal 'open' fiber networks in the U.S., are Danville, VA, currently deploying, and Palo Alto, CA, about to deploy its system.   There's more.

A great opportunity is at hand for localities to take responsibility for fulfilling the promise of becoming content-rich, economically vital, quality-of-life enhancing, broadband-based Information Societies.

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