BG Communications, an emerging network operator, is working closely with a large number of municipalities in Austria to build Open Access FTTH. Since 2021, they, with their subsidiary regioHELP, have been using COS Service Zones to capture customer interest and the COS Business Engine for operations. Automated provisioning is supported by COS’ partnership with Nokia.

In Austria, fibre penetration is not even 10% and especially in many rural regions it is a challenge to participate in the modern digital world. Erwin Moser, co-founder of RegioHELP, is a passionate advocate of projects oriented towards the common good. He was instrumental in the construction of a municipal wind farm as well as a area-wide fibre optic network in his hometown of Munderfing. After seeing the massive local support and benefits of the fibre network, he and his partner Willem Brinkert, co-founder and CEO of regioHELP and BG Communications, started looking for ways to roll out fibre on a larger scale and for the benefit of the region.

“After the expansion of the area-wide community network in Munderfing, my team and I were convinced that this could also be done in larger regions and even more efficiently. It was a matter of finding a model that benefits the regions and the citizens and makes sense from a financial point of view. That’s how we came up with our model. We work closely with the municipalities and the ownership rights are transferred to the municipalities in the long term. But initially we will take on all the work to get the network built and operational. By doing this on a large scale in several regions, we can be much more effective than one municipality could be alone,” Erwin Moser comments.

“To make this model work, we understood we needed an operations platform, a BSS/OSS, tailor built for Open Access and with a proven track record of enabling cost efficient and scalable operations. With COS Systems end-to-end platform, we found what we needed. With everything from the initial interest survey to pre-signups and zero-touch provisioning of services from multiple providers in one platform our operations are streamlined. We can simply do more with less people and scale faster”, says Willem Brinkert.

“We are honored to be supporting RegioHELP in their efforts to bring Open Access fiber to residents in these unserved and underserved regions. It aligns very well with our company mission to help connect the unconnected. We believe our software and knowledge within this space will help regiohelp scale faster and provide affordable high-speed broadband to more people sooner!”, says COS Systems CEO Mikael Philipsson.

 

About BG Communications:
BG Communications is a young innovative company that builds a nationwide fibre infrastructure for municipalities. As a disruptive player in the German-speaking fibre optic infrastructure scene, BG Communications relies on a cooperative model and thus direct cooperation with the municipalities. With the subsidiaries regioHELP eG and Glasfaser Spezial-Bau GmbH, a multitude of tasks are mapped “in-house”, allowing processes to be optimised and synergy effects to be used to enable efficient fibre optic expansion.

About COS Systems:
COS SYSTEMS provides Fiber to the Home operators and network owners all around the world with software for automating and digitizing every aspect of their Broadband venture. The COS software has a strong focus to support the end-to-end process and Open Access for best-in-class ROI and scalability in fiber to the home projects.
Learn more about COS Systems on www.cossystems.com.

A small budget, long distances and low population density surely does not sound like the best prerequisites for a fiber network buildout. By working in a structured, but still creative way and with a good dialogue with the local community it is still feasible. It has been proven over the last six years since Kitsap PUD started to work with COS to build demand for and operate their Open Access fiber network.

To understand how this success story began, we must jump back all the way to 2003. As members of NoaNet (Northwest Open Access Network), another customer of COS, Kitsap Public Utility District (KPUD) got access to the fiber backbone that was built throughout the rural parts of Washington State. In 2003 KPUD started building a middle mile network, branching off from the NoaNet fiber ring and connected their first community anchor tenants; schools, libraries, navy facilities, but also a number of businesses. Being a water utility and not having the big budgets as some of the electric utilities in Washington State have, it was a slow but steady buildout that generated a small, but positive cash flow. An excellent starting point for any community wishing to initiate a fiber project as not only costs can be lowered to the anchor institutes, but that the revenue from those fiber connections will also stay local.

Over the coming years, the incumbent telecom companies didn’t improve their presence in the county much and not only businesses, but also residents started to ask if KPUD could expand their fiber network to reach them, as some other PUD’s in the state had done. KPUD decided to find a way to determine if there was a big interest for this and that is when they started working with COS Service Zones. Within just a few days from launching the site, the response was overwhelming with over 2000 completed surveys. The lack of high speed and quality broadband in the county was clear.

KPUD is running their network on an Open Access model and is operating it using COS Business Engine. This means they are not themselves providing the retail services but invite private sector providers to do so. Already from the start several Service providers saw the benefit of being able to reach new customers without any investments in infrastructure, even though the numbers were initially small.

So, without a big budget how were they able to expand their networks in these rural areas? The secret recipe is called LUD:s (Local Utility Districts). While the middle mile network is expanded by a mix of cash flow revenue, tax dollars and grants, the last mile connections to the homes are paid by the homeowners, but it is not a one-by-one thing. Instead, in neighborhoods or areas where KPUD has identified a high demand with COS Service Zones the total cost for the buildout is calculated and the cost per household is determined. Residents will decide if they want to participate or not and high participation obviously leads to a lower cost. Residents have the option to pay upfront, but many choose to spread the cost out over time through one of the partnerships KPUD has established with local banks that will allow a long term loan with a fixed interest rate and a lean on the property. Even if these costs can in some less densely populated areas be quite substantial, people are willing to sign up knowing it will not only provide a better internet service, but also increase their property value. Just recently the very last homeowner who didn’t opt-in initially in one of the first LUD’s decided to connect – effectively a 100% take-rate in that neighborhood, even though the last mile connection has to be paid by the homeowner. Another rural COS Open Access customer, neighboring Mason PUD3, is also using a model where customers can pay off their installation over time with a $25 monthly construction adder to the cost of their service for 12 years.

Angela Bennink, Telecom Director at KPUD, explains that the Open Access model is a big proponent of the network and the choice it offers make people more willing to sign up and connect. Subscribers know that the competition between multiple providers will ensure a good quality of service and reasonable prices. And switching between providers is made extremely easy by the self-service broadband Marketplace provided with the COS Business Engine operations platform.

“Our biggest challenge now is keeping up with demand,” says Bennink.

Especially during this Covid-19 pandemic the need for broadband has been extreme. The proximity to Seattle, across the water also makes the population grow at a rapid pace. 100 000 new residents are expected in the coming three years and KPUD is working with developers to make sure they put in conduit for fibers as they build.

“We have slowly and steadily grown and we will add close to 500 new customers this year and as many next year. We have found a model that really works with our prerequisites and the functionality to streamline the capture of interest and the operations of our Open Access network provided by COS System’s platforms has been a part of that success,” says Bennink.

“It’s been an absolute honor to have been part of KPUD’s journey from the first survey responses coming in, to the successful growth they are showing today. They have proved that with a strong localized strategy and perseverance rural fiber is possible,” says Isak Finer, Chief Revenue Manager at COS Systems.

Fiber network deployments can be separated into two distinct phases – Distribution network buildout and customer connections, often referred to as “drops”. COS Business Engine has always automated the activation of the ONT to validate and document the connection between the service location and the installed equipment to guarantee correct service provisioning. With the latest release of COS Business Engine we’ve launched a full workflow solution for managing and documenting customer connections.

Once you’ve got fiber built to the street, connecting a new customer to your network may sound to some like an easy task. “Just send the crew out and get it done!” Well, this is another one of those things in running a fiber network that are easier said than done. If you start to break down all the work of getting a customer installed into smaller tasks, you will quickly realize that it requires an almost overwhelming amount of planning, coordination, information sharing and documentation to avoid problems.

 

A typical workflow could look like this:

1. A customer has signed up and you’ve decided it’s time to connect their home.

2. Drop design. A fiber drop assignment must be made from the connection point in the street to the house. It requires information about where the fiber terminal is, what it looks like at the location, which building and where on that building the fiber should be connected, etc.

3. Staging the drop. As the fiber drop design is complete a person has to access that information to know what equipment has to be prepared for the installation crew as they go out to do the installation. What length of drop cable is to be used? Which type of ONT? What kind of enclosure?

4. Build the drop. A crew will take the prepared material and drive out to the home to connect and bury/hang the drop fiber cable from the fiber terminal in the street to the wall of the house to connect. It’s key that the correct material has been prepared and that fiber drop information is easily accessible.

5. Install the network interface unit. This is where the fiber drop cable terminates at the outer wall of the house.

6. Install the ONT/CPE. This is the final step, before the subscriber can go live with their service. The in-home installation crew will drill through the outer wall and pull a fiber through to the inside of the house and install the ONT where the customer has chosen to put it. It includes the activation and confirmation that the correct ONT is installed at the correct location. If this is not correct, service orders from one customer could be provisioned to the neighbor! Such errors can be incredibly time consuming to resolve since you may have to come into customers’ homes.

7. Configure the service and test the connection port is performing as expected.

 

All these tasks must be coordinated, and every person/crew involved must know for sure that the previous step was successfully completed. Imagine if a crew has an appointment to make the final installations in the customer’s home, then meeting up with the customer who has stayed home from work excited to start using their new service, and then finding out the fiber drop to the house has not yet been completed. That’s a huge waste of time and that subscriber will in a matter of seconds go from excited to extremely disappointed. This might be the worst possible scenario, but lack of control in this rather complex process will be extremely costly.

It’s also extremely valuable to have good documentation of how the work has been performed. Not only to continuously verify that installation crews/subcontractors are doing quality work, but also for future support and maintenance.

 

Deployment portalThis screenshot shows the installer’s view of the installation workflow. The customer and service location information is there and also the status of each and every task in the installation workflow.

 

With the new customer installation workflow in COS Business Engine we’ve solved all of these potential pitfalls. As soon as a new customer location is created, either manually or by an import, but most likely through the integration to our demand aggregation platform COS Service Zones, a complete installation work order is created. This work order includes a set of predefined tasks that can then be assigned to the appropriate installer responsible to execute it. Each person will have a user profile set up in COS Business Engine where they will be able to access all the relevant information about the task to be performed on their own device. An installer will have all their work orders and tasks listed on their overview page as they log into their installer view in COS Business Engine.

Any files, be it drawings, signed contracts or pictures taken in the field, will be available to not only the admin user, but also every installer with tasks to perform in that specific customer connection. With real-time access and updates there is no need to distribute papers and manually confirm work performed using phone or email.

This new functionality is part of the standard set of features delivered with the COS Business Engine and we’re excited to receive feedback from our existing and new customers as they start using it.

Finally, a special shout-out to the great team at WideOpen Networks in Virginia who are using our full product suit to manage everything from initial interest surveys, to pre-signups in fiberhoods with take-rate targets, taking deposits, managing the customer connection workflows described in this blog post, to the Marketplace where subscribers can manage their own service orders on their Open Access network and finally billing. Their vast experience provided invaluable feedback in our development of this new functionality.

Brownsville, TX, has been on the list of the least connected US cities for the past few years. Oldham County is only a short drive from Kentucky’s largest city Louisville but does not have adequate access to broadband. Through a partnership with Lit Communities, COS Systems is part of the solution for both of these cities.

Lit Communities are helping municipalities build a plan for improved broadband access, as well as offering support in financing, constructing and operating networks. With the firm determination that it’s always feasible to find ways to deploy a future proof broadband infrastructure in every community, each project starts with an in-depth assessment of the unique conditions of the specific market. The result is a business case that outlines how a sustainable network can be built and operated.

Even though this kind of business case is incredibly complex to produce, it builds on getting answers to two questions that are simple to ask; What will it cost to build and operate the network, and what will the revenue be?

It is on the revenue side of the business case preparation that COS Service Zones comes into play. While the cost is calculated by producing network designs based on service locations to be connected and existing assets in the form of fiber, conduit, poles, etc. the revenue side is harder to estimate. It is determined by how many subscribers will sign up and what services they will buy. This is why Lit Communities are using COS Service Zones to perform what is known in the industry as Demand Aggregation.

Two recent projects where COS Service Zones have been launched are in Brownsville, TX and Oldham County, KY. Both of these projects are in the first phase of demand aggregation where residents and businesses are encouraged to go to their localized COS Service Zones sites to show their interest by taking a survey. In this survey they will be asked questions about their current service and provider, as well as indicating what service package they would be interested in and their likeliness to sign up. The survey also asks market specific questions to gather information valuable to building the plan for that community. After answering the short questionnaire, the respondents will also be asked to complete a speed test that will give them what download and upload speeds they are receiving from their current provider. The results will give a good picture of what speeds are available, where customers have access to high speeds already and which incumbent providers can provide proper broadband speeds. One particularly interesting question to answer is how many respondents actually reach the definition of broadband, which today is set at 25 Mbps download and 3Mbps upload – A definition most can agree is far too low with everything the internet is used for today.

By integrating to social media and allowing local residents to sign up as “Champions”, the COS Service Zones platform aims to build a grassroots word-of-mouth movement, where the local community will drive as many people as possible to show their interest. In most communities this works incredibly well, with hundreds and even thousands of survey responses in a just a few days. This is especially true in communities currently unserved or underserved, or where incumbent providers have used their monopoly position to keep the prices high and network upgrades to a minimum – unfortunately, something common in smaller cities and rural areas.

With access to this real-time data, captured from the same persons who would be the subscribers on the network, Lit Communities can accurately predict future take-rates and revenue. The data will also help to determine what service offerings and pricing would be optimal for ensuring high take-rates and network sustainability. With these results, it takes the guesswork out of play and creates an accurate business case for the municipality and investors.

Despite the value the survey produces, the major strengths of the comprehensive COS Service Zones platform are still to come into the play when the decision to move the project forward from planning to execution is taken. Now, knowing exactly where in the city demand is greatest and competition weakest, based on the survey responses, service zones –“fiberhoods”- can be created. These are neighborhoods that will have their own signup page where the number of households required to get on the construction list is highlighted. It is now up to the neighbors to come together and sign up. The best neighborhoods will be prioritized in the build-out, ensuring that the financials of the project are always intact, and that revenue can be optimized.

“With a dedication to close the digital divide for everyone, a vision we at COS share, Lit Communities’ ultimate goal is always to deploy a complete fiber based network to every home and business in the community and then operate it on a True Open Access model, allowing local as well as external service providers to offer services to the residents and business on their networks. It will offer local companies the opportunity to grow and an attractive assortment of services and providers to the subscribers. We hope and believe that this will become a reality in Brownsville and Oldham County, “says Isak Finer, CMO and VP North America at COS Systems.

About Lit Communities

Lit Communities is both a forward-thinking builder and operator of next-generation network infrastructure and a consultancy that guides communities across the country through the complicated process of deploying their own open application fiber optic utilities. Lit Communities believes that by separating the network infrastructure from the services provided on it, a more resilient and consumer-friendly environment is created. This approach makes otherwise prohibitively expensive networks feasible to build in communities of all sizes. Learn more at www.litcommunities.net

About COS Systems

COS SYSTEMS is a leading provider of software to plan, deploy and operate modern broadband networks that support services from one or more providers, using a powerful yet simple self-service interface. Specializing in True Open Access Networks, COS Systems takes customer needs and delivers innovative software solutions that streamline operations, accelerate revenue, and deliver more satisfied subscribers. Learn more about COS Systems at www.cossystems.com

For additional information, contact:

Isak Finer
CMO & VP North America
COS Systems
+1 (540) 988 3224
isak.finer@cossystems.com
www.cossystems.com

Umeå Energi har med en hög utbyggnadstakt kraftigt expanderat sitt stadsnät i Umeåregionen. Med ett allt större fibernät, fler aktiva kunder och ny teknik som introduceras så har Umeå Energi valt att förnya avtalet med COS Systems för deras fortsatta användande av COS Business Engine som operatörsplattform för driften av nätet.

Det kommunalägda energibolaget Umeå Energi var väldigt tidigt ute med fiber och utbyggnaden av stadsnätet Umenet påbörjades redan under 90-talet. På senare år har utbyggnadstakten varit fortsatt hög och även antalet kunder i sedan tidigare utbyggda områden som nu valt att ansluta sig har vuxit kraftigt i takt med att behovet av bredbands­uppkoppling av hög kvalitet blir en allt mer central del av svenskarnas vardag. Äldre tekniker för att leverera Internet blir allt mer utdaterade.

Umenet har sedan 2012 använt mjukvaran COS Business Engine. Systemet omfattar allt från kundportalen där kunderna kan välja tjänster från 15 olika leverantörer, till de administrativa och tekniska funktionerna som automatiserar allt från aktivering av bredbandstjänster och fakturering av leverantörerna.  

“Med den kundtillväxt vi sett de senaste åren och med introduktionen av nya tjänster i nätet och användningsområden för vår fiberinfrastruktur var det läge att omarbeta vårt avtal med COS Systems. Med detta uppdaterade avtal på plats är vi redo för fortsatt framtida tillväxt med stöd av COS och deras effektiva driftsplattform,” säger Mats Berggren, VD på Umeå Energi Umenet.

Bland mycket annat så arbetar Umeå Energi med ett mycket intressant projekt där Sveriges första 5G-nät utvecklas i samarbete med Ericsson, Telia, Umeå Universitet, Umeå Kommun, Umeå Science Park samt andra lokala aktörer. Ett ytterligare innovativt initiativ är Smart Start, vilken är en pilot på Smarta-hem- och IoT-tjänster (Internet of Things), som kan levereras över deras öppna stadsnät.

”Det uppdaterade avtalet med Umeå Energi är viktigt för oss. Vi ser det som bevis för att vårt system inte bara skapar förutsättningar för en snabb kundtillväxt, utan även är en effektiv plattform för framtida expansion. Umeå Energi är en innovativ och framtidsinriktad kund och vårt fortsatta samarbete kommer bidra till att våra produkter utvecklas för att än bättre möta de krav som framtidens tekniska lösningar ställer”, säger Peter Lidström, VD på COS Systems.

Om Umeå Energi

Umeå Energi är ett energibolag och en samhällsaktör som i nära samarbete med omvärlden utvecklar och levererar hållbara energi- och kommunikationslösningar. Vår vision är en enklare vardag för våra kunder och en hållbar framtid för regionen. Vi omsätter ca 1,4 miljarder kronor, har drygt 400 medarbetare och är både miljö- och arbetsmiljöcertifierade.

Om COS Systems

COS Systems är en globalt verksam leverantör av mjukvara för att planera, bygga ut och sköta driften av moderna bredbandsnät. COS Systems utgår från kundbehov och utvecklar innovativa mjukvarulösningar som effektiviserar den dagliga driften, bidrar till ökad försäljning och nöjdare kunder. COS Systems expanderar ständigt och har hittills sina kunder i Europa, Nord- och Sydamerika, Afrika och Asien. Läs mer om COS Systems på www.cossystems.com

För ytterligare information, kontakta:

Mats Berggren
VD, Umea Energi Umenet AB
070 – 518 71 28
Mats.berggren@umeaenergi.se
www.umeaenergi.se

Peter Lidström
VD, COS Systems AB
070 – 656 58 72
Peter.lidstrom@cossystems.com
www.cossystems.com

The Electric Utility Umea Energi has expanded their fiber network significantly during the last years. With a larger footprint and new technologies emerging they have chosen to renew their contract with COS Systems for their continuous use of COS Business Engine for efficient operations and automated service activations of their Open Access fiber network.  

[Umea, Sweden] Umea Energi is a municipally owned electric utility in the University town of Umea, Sweden. It first started building out the fiber optic network in the 90’s, but has increased the pace in their build-out in the last five years, while the take-rates have also improved greatly as consumers need for reliable high-speed data increases. Older technologies to connect to the internet are becoming obsolete.

The Utility has been using COS Business Engine as their BSS/OSS (Business and Operations Support System) since 2012. The system consists of everything from the online Marketplace where subscribers can choose services from 15 different service providers to the administrative backend system that automates everything from service activation to wholesale billing.

“With the growth we have seen in the last years and the new applications we are now introducing in our network we needed to rework our original agreement with COS. With this updated agreement in place we are ready for the future of our network with the support of COS Systems and their highly efficient operations platform,” says Mats Berggren, CEO of Umea Energi Umenet.

Umeå Energi is currently working on Sweden’s first 5G deployment in cooperation with Ericsson, Telia, Umea University and other municipal entities. They are also doing a pilot project called Smart Start, which is a platform for delivery of smart home services to residents.

“This updated agreement with Umea Energi is important for us at COS. We have proven that our system enables and supports network growth and that it will also be the platform to effectively operate Open Access Networks in the future. Umea Energi is an innovative and forward thinking customer and our ongoing cooperation will be valuable for the continuous development of our products,” says COS Systems CEO Peter Lidstrom.

About Umeå Energi

Umeå Energi is an energy company that in close cooperation with the world around us develops and provides sustainable solutions for energy and communication services. We strive to challenge through new thinking and to drive the sustainable development in the Umeå region. Our vision is to make everyday life simpler for our customers and to secure a sustainable future for the region. Our turnover is approximately SEK 1.4 billion, we have just over 400 employees and hold environmental as well as work environment certifications. umeaenergi.se

About COS Systems

COS SYSTEMS is a leading provider of software to plan, deploy and manage Open Access networks, using a powerful yet simple self-service interface. COS Systems takes customer needs and delivers innovative software solutions that streamline operations, accelerate revenue and deliver more satisfied subscribers. Learn more about COS Systems on www.cossystems.com.

For additional information contact:

Mats Berggren
CEO
Umea Energi Umenet AB
Mats.berggren@umeaenergi.se
www.umeaenergi.se

Isak Finer
CMO & VP North America
COS Systems
isak.finer@cossystems.com
www.cossystems.com

NoaNet and COS Systems expand partnership by launching an operator version of COS Service Zones. NoaNet has previously provided cities and public utilities with COS Systems’ demand aggregation platform and support in the project execution. Now NoaNet is set to further help rural communities in Washington get connected to fiber by launching their own COS Service Zones system ready to aggregate demand for fiber in any part of the State.

Gig Harbor, WA – NoaNet (Northwest Open Access Network) is a non-profit municipal corporation which operates an extensive open-access fiber back-bone network reaching every corner of Washington State. NoaNet has partnered with COS Systems in the past to provide the demand aggregation platform COS Service Zones to Public Utility and municipal customers. Since then, many communities have reached out to NoaNet asking if they could provide them with a managed demand aggregation solution delivered as a service. NoaNet is now in the process of launching a statewide COSService Zones application that can be leveraged as part of their Community Broadband Solutions program to assist communities in evaluating their need and readiness for municipal broadband deployment.

COS Service Zones is a web-based software platform that allows a community or provider to run a “fiberhood”campaign to learn if there is enough interest in the community to invest in a fiber infrastructure and in which neighborhoods the demand is greatest. Every neighborhood has a “take-rate” target to reach in order to qualify for build-out. The purpose is to involve the community in the process and build a common will to build the new fiber infrastructure. In successful COS ServiceZones campaigns demand grows rapidly as the community engages on the platform, sharing information about the project on social media, and spreading information to their neighbors and friends.

“When NoaNet explained that there were many communities interested in better connectivity but lacking the resources or expertise to run a COS Service Zones campaign themselves, we began thinking how we could best assist NoaNet in helping those communities. We developed the concept of an operator version of COS Service Zones, which allows NoaNet to add smaller communities as separate projects on their singleplatform. Practically, this means each of these communities will have their own section of the NoaNet managed website.” says Bjorn Wannman, Manager Partnerships and Strategic Accounts at COS Systems.

Chris Walker, Telecommunications Director at NoaNet is looking forward to offering this tool to Washington communities on a larger scale then NoaNet was previously able to support. “There are dozens of rural communities in Washington with limited or no access to modern telecom infrastructure. High speed broadband can make a huge impact for job creation, economic growth, high quality healthcare and smart services to increase the quality of life for our rural residents. In many cases, even if community leaders understand the need and want to close the digital inclusion gap, they might lack the resources to do something about it themselves. We’re now prepared to help them understand the options to pursue a telecommunications buildout plan.”

Chris has been with NoaNet through several service expansions and is excited about this new opportunity to help Washington communities help themselves increase their broadband access. He said, “Not only will we help them determine if there is enough demand to move forward and invest in the infrastructure, with our extensive fiber footprint and open access experience we will also be able to offer services in build-out and operations. This package of services will make a huge difference for rural Washington communities”

Claire Ward, Marketing and Communications Manager at NoaNet shares Chris’s excitement for this new opportunity. “NoaNet has been serving Washington state for nearly 20 years by working to bring telecommunications infrastructure to underserved communities. With the experience and knowledge we have within the company paired with the tools offered in the COS Service Zones platform, I’m convinced we can serve many parallel projects across the state and help communities move the dial on their broadband access without spending exorbitant resources many just don’t have, “adds ClaireWard, Marketing and Communications Manager at NoaNet, who has been involved in several previous COS Service Zones projects.

“COS Systems originates from the rural northern parts of Sweden, not much different from rural Washington State.We’ve seen first-hand how crucial it is for remote areas to get access to high speed broadband. In the digital economy traditional boundaries like country and city borders are getting less important. Instead communities lacking the critical broadband infrastructure will inevitably be left behind. All of us at COS are proud to support NoaNet in their mission to connect every corner of Washington state to their state-of-the-art fiber network. Fiber is an essential infrastructure for today’s communities, alongside water, electricity and roads for our modern digital world.” Says Isak Finer, CMO at COS Systems  

About NoaNet

Northwest Open Access Network (NoaNet) is a non-profit wholesale only telecommunications network owner and provider which operates a fiber network spanning thousands of miles throughout the State of Washington. NoaNet engages their mission to serve Washington State by consistently looking for new opportunities to expand in meaningful ways that bridge the digital divide. For additional information, see www.noanet.net.

About COS Systems

COS SYSTEMS is a leading provider of software to plan, deploy and manage Open Access fiber networks, using a powerful yet simple self-service interface. COS Systems takes customer needs and delivers innovative software solutions that streamline operations, accelerate revenue and deliver more satisfied subscribers. Learn more about COS Systems on www.cossystems.com.

For additional information contact:

Claire Ward
Marketing and Communications Manager
NoaNet
+1 (816) 519-2370
claire.ward@noanet.net
www.noanet.net

Isak Finér
Chief Marketing Officer
COS Systems
+46737 51 99 38
isak.finer@cossystems.com
www.cossystems.com

Peter Lidström, nuvarande vd på COS Systems, Jörgen Olofsson, tidigare vd på COS och nu innovationschef, Håkan Holmström, tidigare it-chef på Bostaden, Harry Jonsson, mannen bakom Kommunicera, och Johan Nyström, nuvarande it-chef på Bostaden.

In the early days of Swedish municipal fiber networks, they adopted the only model known at that time, copying the incumbent telecom providers in building, operating and providing services on their own networks. Many of them struggled as this was something a municipality was not very well suited to do and the open access model started to gain ground. One of these municipal networks that opened their network up to multiple providers was Bostaden. But as they couldn’t find the operations platform they were looking for they decided to have it built. This was the birth of what today, ten years later, is COS Systems.

[Umea, Sweden] Municipal housing company Bostaden have been providing their tenants with Internet service over their fiber network since 1995. They are the largest property owner in the city of Umea, with half of the city’s 35 000 students living in their properties. Managing a network with mainly students is challenging, since a large portion of the subscribers will move out and new move in every semester, pretty much at the same time. In 2007 they had been struggling long enough themselves delivering the services on the network, without having reached the customer satisfaction and internal efficiency they wished for.

At this time in Sweden the Open Access model was winning ground. Many of the cities who had built their own fiber optic broadband infrastructure were in the same position as Bostaden. They didn’t have the right organization for selling Internet services and dealing with end customers and decided the best way to treat the broadband infrastructure was by layering the business model and have specialized companies being responsible for each layer. Instead of competing with the private providers by selling services themselves they decided to cooperate with them.

The first layer is the physical infrastructure, the actual fiber-optic cables in the ground. This is the layer where most Swedish municipalities focus their efforts, since infrastructure deployment and maintenance are something they are often very experienced in. Many of them also build and maintain electricity, sewer, water and gas networks. If a fiber is cut, the municipality would fix it. The second layer is the operations of the network, bringing in the electronics and lighting up the network. If a network router goes down, the Operator of the network will replace it. The operations company will also manage the relationship with the service providers. The third layer is the services layer. This is where private service providers are invited to deliver their services over the infrastructure managed by the operations company, competing to deliver the highest quality service and customer support at the best terms. If a customer has a problem with their Internet service they would turn to their service provider for help.

With this separation of the very different tasks of managing a fiber network, the entities in each layer can build a highly specialized organization to do their part of the work as efficiently as possible. With an Open Access ecosystem in place, operations companies can operate multiple networks and service providers sell services over multiple networks and thereby become even more efficient by economy of scale. This is why Sweden today has among the lowest prices for broadband in the world.

In the case with Bostaden they decided they would do the first two layers and continue to operate their own network, but they couldn’t find the system they wanted to help them embrace this new business model. With a list of requirements, they turned to local IT consultancy company UDK asking for them to build the system they envisioned. The team that would later spin-off COS Systems as a separate product company began translating the requirements into code.

The system that was developed, now called COS Business Engine, was launched an early morning in June 2008. In the middle of the night every one of the more than 10,000 customers on the network had seen their service go dark as the entire network was shut down and now they all came to the Bostaden branded Marketplace to pick their new service provider having their new service delivered the minute after. It worked flawlessly and the small operations staff at Bostaden could sit back and see orders coming in and being provisioned, hundreds every hour, on their system dashboard. Today Bostaden’s network operates under the name Bostnet, has close to 15,000 active subscribers and is managed by two people, one of them working part time.

“Taking a look in the rear-view mirror it’s pretty amazing to see what has happened since we built the first version of the system. Who could have imagined that the system would be used to operate more than a hundred networks and half a million service locations in every corner of the world. It’s also fascinating how a very high-level vision can still be relevant after such a long time. It proves it must have been pretty spot on,” comments the first two developers of the platform, Peter Sjoblom and Roger Olofsson. They both still work with the system today, Peter as the Solution Architect and Roger doing the most advanced customer support and product testing.

“There’s not much to say really, “ says Bostaden IT Director Johan Nystrom with a laugh. “For ten years now COS Business Engine has been taking care of pretty much everything involved in operating our Open Access Network. It just works.”

 

Foresite Group, Inc. and COS Systems are happy to announce that they are partnering to help American communities take control of their digital future by building their own gigabit networks. Using a methodology that builds on community engagement and real-time collection of data to create the build-out plan and a true Open Access operating model, once built the sustainability of the networks is assured.  

New York, NY – COS Systems, the developers of the demand aggregation platform COS Service Zones and Open Access network operations platform COS Business Engine has been delivering software solutions to the mature Swedish market for community networks for over a decade and in the USA since 2013.

Foresite Group are specialists in planning and design of gigabit speed networks and has developed a turn key offering to communities looking to build their own networks, from initial market assessment to a fully built-out network operated on a true Open Access model.

“We pride ourselves on being innovative and looking at broadband in a different light.  We feel that it is more than just a feasibility study to get things moving in the right direction and with COS Systems we can get to the finish line faster. Our approach to live data analysis to build a complete network with every cost and return on investment properly reviewed gives us an advantage in the industry. Open Access Networks get us to our return on investment faster and allows broadband to be what it needs to be, which is another utility. With COS Systems we get the opportunity to work with a team that has been dealing with this model since open access was just a talking point over a decade ago. COS Systems’ community driven approach is what sets them apart from everyone else out there as they let the residents decide what they want and then we work with them to turn that dream into reality.” says Brian Snider, Network Design Practice Area Leader at Foresite Group

“In Sweden, the demand aggregation model, where you make sure your subscribers are committed before you start the build-out has been the predominant way to deploy networks for a long time. There simply is no other way to predict where customers might sign up or not, other than asking them. We are thrilled to see that this model is now rapidly being adopted in the United States as well, which our many COS Service Zones projects prove. Our partnership with Foresite Group will only help this progression and will ensure more successful networks gets built,“ says Isak Finer, CMO at COS Systems.

The COS Service Zones platform allows network builders to draw competing neighborhood zones, or “Fiberhoods”, across their targeted area and then see real-time demand grow as customers sign up before the network deployment begins. Once target take-rates are reached, the networks are deployed backed by committed customers and secured revenue.

In a true Open Access Network, the fiber is built all the way to every premise. With a neutral operations company managing this infrastructure, any provider will be invited to sell services to subscribers on equal terms. The subscribers will select their desired providers and services from an online portal, much like you would browse for apps in the Appstore. This abundance of choice for the end customer will drive the prices down and the quality of service up. For the providers this means competition and that they have to make sure to deliver on their promise to their customers. However, their risk of entering a new market is close to none, since they don’t have to make any infrastructure investments.

“In Sweden, even though being a relatively small and in large parts rural country, we have hundreds of successful community networks operated with an open access model. This has enabled Sweden to early reach a top position in the world when it comes to high speed broadband and the result is job creation in future industries and the growth of many successful companies and software apps, such as Spotify, Skype, Minecraft, etc. It is great to be working with a partner like Foresite Group who can incorporate these two models and our software into their turn-key solution for the planning, design and build of community gigabit networks, “says Bjorn Wannman, Manager Partnerships and Strategic Account at COS Systems.

The build-out of community networks in the US has been slow, but that is now about to change as community leaders are realizing how crucial highspeed broadband is to their communities. The Internet today is as important as electricity, water, sewer and gas and should be looked at it from that perspective.  UPS and FedEx don’t have their own roads for deliveries to your home so why should your internet providers be any different?

“We have seen how the interest among cities to build their own fiber networks have been growing rapidly for the last couple of years and we are very happy to have developed our turn key offering with COS and their full suite of products. We are committed to improving connectivity across the US and our method gets things moving in a direction for nothing but success.”  Brian Snider added.

About COS Systems

COS SYSTEMS is a leading provider of software to plan, deploy and manage modern broadband networks that support services from one or more providers, using a powerful yet simple self-service interface. COS Systems takes customer needs and delivers innovative software solutions that streamline operations, accelerate revenue and deliver more satisfied subscribers. Learn more about COS Systems on www.cossystems.com

About Foresite Group

Foresite Group Inc. is a multidisciplinary design, planning, and engineering firm with over 140 associates nationwide. Our collaborative process results in creative products and services for our clients. Foresite Group’s offices are located in Peachtree Corners, Georgia; Auburn and Birmingham, Alabama; Tampa, Florida; Austin and Dallas, Texas; Broomfield, Colorado; New Orleans, Louisiana; Washington, D.C.; Independence, OH; Knoxville and Nashville, TN; Bothell, WA.  Learn more about Foresite Group and all their service areas at www.fg-inc.net.

For additional information contact:

Isak Finer
CMO
COS Systems
+46 (737) 519-938
Isak.finer@cossystems.com
www.cossystems.com

Brian Snider
Network Design Practice Area Leader
Foresite Group
+1 (334) 714-1439
bsnider@fg-inc.net
www.fg-inc.net

After years of rapid growth in the USA, COS Systems now enters the Canadian market by signing an agreement with Ontario based Internet service provider Start.ca.

New York, NY – COS Systems, the developers of the demand aggregation platform COS Service Zones is adding yet another market to the list as they now expand into Canada.

“We’ve had our eyes on Canada for some time now, but it wasn’t until recently we did a real effort to get into the market. It’s not that there haven’t been opportunities, but our feeling has been that the spur in build-outs hasn’t started yet, and we have been very busy on our existing markets. In USA only, we’ve started two to three new projects every month this year,” says COS Systems Chief Marketing Officer Isak Finér.

The COS Service Zones platform allows network builders to draw competing neighborhood zones, or “Fiberhoods,” across their targeted area and then see real-time demand grow as customers sign up before the network deployment begins. Once target take-rates are reached, the networks are deployed backed by committed customers and secured revenue.

Based in London, Ontario, Start.ca has been delivering Internet services since 1995. Known for providing the best customer service in the industry, Start.ca was honoured to win the London Chamber of Commerce’s Large Business of the Year award in 2017.

“We are focused on continuing to build out our fiber network in London and working with COS Service Zones will help us do this in a very efficient way,” says Start.ca CEO Peter Rocca.

“In the last year we’ve started to see indications of more Canadian fiber projects being planned and decided to make our market introduction on the Canadian ISP Summit conference in Toronto last month. It’s great to already start our first project, which we hope and believe will be followed by many more in the near future. The fact that it’s such a renowned company as Start.ca makes it even greater. We couldn’t have imagined a better way to enter the Canadian market” says Isak Finér.

“We are very happy about working with Start.ca to help them validate demand for their new buildouts and to now enter the Canadian market. It seems the fiber revolution is coming to Canada now, and we aim to be there, helping network builders optimize their buildouts based on committed subscribers. It seems that Open Access is also being discussed as an interesting model to ensure broadband to everyone at fair turns. If that happens, we will be there waiting with our leading software to manage True Open Access Networks, “says COS Systems CEO Peter Lidstrom.

About COS Systems

COS SYSTEMS is a leading provider of software to plan, deploy and manage modern broadband networks that support services from one or more providers, using a powerful yet simple self-service interface. COS Systems takes customer needs and delivers innovative software solutions that streamline operations, accelerate revenue and deliver more satisfied subscribers. Learn more about COS Systems on www.cossystems.com

About Start.ca

Based in London, Ontario, Start.ca has been providing home and business internet services for over twenty years. Today they are rated #1 in customer service across all of North America and provide high speed cable, DSL and fibre internet services throughout Ontario and parts of Quebec. Learn more about the company at www.start.ca.

For additional information contact:

Isak Finer
CMO
COS Systems
+46 (737) 519-938
Isak.finer@cossystems.com
www.cossystems.com

Leanne Beattie
Media Relations
Start.ca
+1 (519) 963-1840 x 8169
lbeattie@start.ca
www.start.ca