Under the open access model, Underline builds and operates a fiber optic network that can be used by multiple service providers and provide services to customers. Residential service starts at $ 49 per month for a 500 megabit per second connection, while gigabit connections start at $ 65 per month. That’s much faster than the 25 Mbps benchmark that the Federal Communications Commission uses to define high-speed Internet service. Underline CEO Bob Thompson told Axios the company chose Colorado Springs for its first project after assessing several factors, including homes without internet access and the number of existing providers. Underline’s Colorado Springs project involves more than $ 100 million to build 400 miles of fiber optics and serve 55,000 homes and businesses.
Highlight lists about 2,500 targeted cities, Thompson said. “These 2,500 communities have been neglected by the current government for years in terms of major infrastructure upgrades. They are often inconsistent with the government’s infrastructure bill. About 83 million Americans have only one option for their home Internet provider, according to a report from the Institute for Local Self-dependance, an antitrust think tank. Overview: The open access model is nothing new, but has recently gained traction, especially as the pandemic is forcing people to rely more on the internet at home.
This summer, California passed legislation to create a $ 6 billion state-owned open access network that aims to connect communities across the state to high-speed internet. West Des Moines, Iowa, plans to use Google Fiber to pay the city for grid access to build a pipeline network, but the project faces opposition from local cable internet provider Mediacom. Ernesto Falcon, senior legislative advisor at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Axios that UTOPIA, an open access fiber optic network in Utah, struggled financially in its early days, but the network has grown into success. and continues to develop. They believe that as demand for fiber increases, open access fiber networks, already popular in Europe, could spread to the United States, Falcon said.
Chris Mitchell, program director at the Institute of Local Self-Government, told Axios: “I think we are seeing a different investment mindset emerging from investors investing in telecommunications, and Underline is one of them. “More and more investors are looking at Underline and saying, ‘No, it’s a good stable investment in the long term, I might not get all my money back in five years, but in the long term. I will get good returns over a longer period of time. ‘”Underline sponsors include Case’s Revolution Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective, FinTech Collective, etc. David Hall, a managing partner of Rest’s Rising Fund said, “The cost structures of some of the big companies and the process of building this fiber are very different.” And NCTA, the cable industry group, says its members are striving to achieve speeds of 10 gigabits per second.
And then: The Biden administration touted community-owned networks as part of funding broadband internet in its push infrastructure package. If approved, states will receive $ 42 billion for Internet projects that they could use to fund open access networks.