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
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