Can the Triad Go the Way of Greenlight?

greenlight Greenlight is a FTTH (basically the same technology as Verizon FiOS) service by the city of Wilson in North Carolina. But the question is that if there was to be the creation of such a service, would we have the infrastructure to support it currently and how far would the reach be? Thus, this discussion is predominantly about that and where we stand currrently.

My main concern with Time Warner currently is how they’re selling DOCSIS 3.0 as if it’s going to fix the data cap issue. But, don’t forget that DOCSIS 3.0 doesn’t actually require that much effort in technology upgrades. It’s mainly a standards change and binding of channels. This basically means that 3.0 markets could eventually fall under the axe of the data caps. So when I saw that they were toting a $99/month 50Mbp downstream and 5Mbp upstream, it hit me that the consumers would lose yet again here in a tiered system.

So far, there have been no guarantees that going to DOCSIS 3.0 would actually have no data cap. Time Warner will probably not deploy this technology here either until there is serious competition since it doesn’t impact their bottom line here in the Triad due to little to no competition.

Verizon FiOS and AT&T Uverse
I predict that Verizon FiOS will not be here any time soon based purely on the fact that this market is maintained by AT&T (previously BellSouth). This was a distribution by the Baby Bells, and thus Verizon doesn’t have any infrastructure here. AT&T Uverse is a hybrid fiber/copper system that can provide a similar sort of service without going through the full fiber infrastructure ground work. The negative of it is that it doesn’t provide the speeds of FTTH (which is what FiOS is due to it being pure fiber to the homes), but the positive is that it costs less in the fixed costs of initial groundwork and can set up as an intermediate stage to FTTH. Unfortunately, AT&T has shown interest in the data cap type servicing plans which defeats the purpose of “faster” services when you’re limited to how much you can use.

From a price structure, most of the speed is really lost when you’re on a data cap. Currently, the pricing below shows the more comparable services and how much they’re supposedly going to cost based on their current quotes. Also remember that as of current, unless you do a lot of simultaneous high bandwidth type downloads, upper limits of speed for downstreams are more or less irrelevant to most of your general consumers currently. Now if you had multiple HD streams going, then it would definitely make a difference but even with your current cable, you already can buffer and watch while it buffers the rest.

TWC DOCSIS 3.0 Verizon FiOS Greenlight
Speed (down/up) 50Mbps/5Mbps 50Mbps/20Mbps 40Mbps/40Mbps
Price (per mo) $99 $144 $99

City Infrastructures
High Point : I’m not really sure if High Point has a fiber ring. They might, or might not but if they do, I don’t know what it’s used for as of current.
Greensboro : They do have a fiber ring but it’s city use currently. Can this be used to create FTTH service to certain neighborhoods? I think so. But the infrastructure would have be upgraded and extended out to service more than just the downtown areas where I assume most of the ring is located. They will also have to begin to look into how to create the jobs similar to Greenlight and how to break city and law enforcement services away on the same ring from servicing the public.
Winston-Salem : Of the three cities, Winston-Salem is probably the best set for a shift to services like Greenlight. This is due to the fact that WinstonNet already services the universities here and they have been working on a wireless initiative in the past to provide wireless to all of Winston-Salem and eventually Forsyth County. Being an Internet 2 POP, the bandwidth is definitely there and they can use that as a base structure to become a provider. I would love to see this happen, but it would depend on how they feel about the entire competitive thing and if they believe it would benefit the citizens on a whole.

Regional Politics
I truly think that regionalism is the best push for this type of project, but seeing how the Heart of the Triad pretty much fell by the wayside, and there’s always talk about regionalism but actually very little action, it’s hard for me to see it happen without turf issues. All in all, smaller cities just can’t compete on a grand scale compared with a larger populace.

I believe that a municipal provided service would actually be the most beneficial to defeating tiered billing. Not only would it be a cheaper service, but the governments on a whole are accountable to its people. The couple of parts that I foresee as an issue would be the fact that municipalities not working well together as a region to create a larger fiber ring that no one else has in the United States. It would also show that when people come together, they can provide for its people and put aside its differences. Great speech stuff, but in reality I wonder if the Triad can actually accomplish this. The other part is that business competition with municipalities is actually a potential legal problem. There would have to be some sort of a nonprofit that would represent the Triad in this matter similar to how Winston-Salem is represented by WinstonNet. Only as such, can they perhaps play the same game that the city of Wilson is playing.