Fiber optic technology is today’s best Internet access delivery method and because of its versatility, durability, and expandability, it is likely to remain so, well into the future. Delivering FTTP, or fiber to the premise is the goal of many Internet service providers, including OTELCO. Meeting that goal is not easy — especially in the rural areas we serve. Below is a look at 2016 stats for OTELCO FTTP implementation.
Some simple math makes it quite clear that the cost per premise to deliver fiber technology in low density rural areas is prohibitively expensive; especially for a business whose investors expect a return. Ironically the same was true in the 1800s at the dawn of the telephone industry when the Ma Bell companies couldn’t make a good business case to deliver phone service to rural areas. Back then it was local farmers and businessmen who used their own money to build rural telephone networks. OTELCO is actually a family of 6 such legacy phone companies.
While we wouldn’t dream of going door to door asking residents to pony up some cash for fiber infrastructure, we do depend on telephone subscribers’ through the various surcharges on phone bills that are then allocated to assist with the cost of infrastructure improvements. Our legislators who recognize the importance of keeping rural populations connected by funding entities and programs like the ConnectME Authority in Maine, Community Development Block Grants, are also critical partners in the effort to help private companies fund rural fiber infrastructure.
Whether it’s OTELCO FTTP or infrastructure improvements by out competitors, fiber technology, particularly in rural areas, is critical to the economic development and quality of life and place of millions of residents and business owners.
As our legislators reconvene in Washington and around the country, we should all thank them for understanding the importance of rural connectivity in the 21st century and encourage them to continue funding the programs that support fiber infrastructure construction for the millions of Americans in the country’s most remote locations.