"There are a wide class of municipalities for which a municipal broadband network is not only viable but is essential if the deployment of broadband is ever to be achieved."
Although the incumbents - the ILECs, IXCs, and MSOs - usually receive the bulk of the industry coverage with regards to Ethernet deployments, there is a new, very important class of emerging carrier that may finally fulfill the promise of bringing true fiber, and therefore broadband, connectivity and service to the end user.
This is the municipality, where one or more cities, counties, or other government entities get together to plan, install, and ultimately operate a common fiber infrastructure capable of supporting any and all higher layer voice, video, and data services. Think of this as universal access for fiber, in the same way that first water, then power, and finally basic voice service was made available to the populace over the last few centuries. It is the culmination of the dream of bringing broadband connectivity to every home, the FTTH, and business, the FTTS.
How Fast is Fiber? Dialup does not even show on this chart.
In this model, and using a city as an example, the network is planned, the business case proved, and then bonds are issued for construction and initial operation. Once in place, the actual network is under control of the city itself or a separate agency created with the purpose of network operation. The network is operated as a utility, with access offered to any content or service provider, independent of whether they are aligned with other service providers or not. This is commonly referred to as an Open Service Provider Network, or OSPN™.
Services may include basic Internet access, basic telephony, video conferencing, medical services, education, entertainment, and security. This is the beauty of the utility model, as there are no conflicts regarding open access or preferential treatment. In fact, there are actual benefits to the end user, since enhanced services (i.e., greater Internet access bandwidth) may be delivered at a lower price than other approaches, while at the same time competition amongst providers will help to drive down service costs.
The providers pay an access fee to the city, helping to retire the bonds. Separate from benefits to the end user are benefits to the city - a 'wired' infrastructure helping to attract new, higher-paying jobs. In fact, this outcome has already been demonstrated through some early installations. Expanding the universal access theme, think of the benefits of a major port or airport to a region.
However, a network with these characteristics - scalability, service neutrality while preserving QoS, and manageability - requires a distinct type of internetworking device, one designed for the demands of the carrier fiber infrastructure while at the same time offering a level of sophistication that the applications demand, all at a price per port that fits within the municipality's business model. Riverstone's carrier-proven metro Ethernet platforms and provisioning solutions meet these needs. The figure below is an example of a typical OSPN architecture.