by Jon Brodkin
Most cities and towns that build their own broadband networks do so to solve a single problem: that residents and businesses aren’t being adequately served by private cable companies and telcos.
But there’s more than one way to create a network and offer service, and the city of Ammon, Idaho, is deploying a model that’s worth examining. Ammon has built an open access network that lets multiple private ISPs offer service to customers over city-owned fiber. The wholesale model in itself isn’t unprecedented, but Ammon has also built a system in which residents will be able to sign up for an ISP—or switch ISPs if they are dissatisfied—almost instantly, just by visiting a city-operated website and without changing any equipment.
Ammon has completed a pilot project involving 12 homes and is getting ready for construction to another 200 homes. Eventually, the city wants to wire up all of its 4,500 homes and apartment buildings, city Technology Director Bruce Patterson told Ars. Ammon has already deployed fiber to businesses in the city, and it did so without raising everybody’s taxes.
Patterson gave Ars a rundown of how the network was built and a demo of the Web portal customers will use to purchase service. You can also watch this video report on the network produced by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR):