rural wireless surveyWhen Telecompetitor speculated last week that we might soon see a flurry of gigabit network announcements from small telcos that have already deployed FTTH, we weren’t expecting to see evidence supporting our prediction less than a week later. But that is exactly what has happened with today’s news that Blue Valley Tele-Communications is deploying ultra-fast broadband in 17 rural Kansas communities.

In an interview, Blue Valley CEO Brian Thomason said not every customer will have the option of upgrading to a gigabit but some will. He also noted that everyone will see a substantial speed increase.

Blue Valley Gigabit Network
“We already had fiber to every house,” said Thomason.

As we’ve seen with gigabit upgrades in some other small markets, it can be relatively easy to offer gigabit service over an existing fiber-to-the-home network.

To achieve its upgrade Blue Valley is replacing some of the electronics in the central office and in the optical line terminal. In addition the company has increased capacity on its DWDM ring and on the connection to its Internet point of presence.

When I asked Thomason about the economics of the service upgrade, he gave virtually the same answer I heard last week from another cooperative — Bolt Fiber Optic Services — when I asked about that company’s gigabit upgrade.

“It’s a quality of life issue,” said Thomason. “As a cooperative that’s what we’re all about.”

Thomason noted, for example, that schools in Blue Valley’s serving area use high-speed broadband for distance learning, and local hospitals use it so that doctors can share results of patients’ medical tests with specialists in other geographic areas to improve patient care. Additionally a local farmer has been able to get better pricing for livestock by selling it on line. And a local agricultural company has been able to expand internationally thanks to broadband.

Thomason was unable to provide pricing for gigabit service at this time. But he said some customers already have upgraded the speed of their connections to intermediate tiers below 1 Gbps but faster than the maximum speed they could get previously.

Blue Valley’s broadband network is based on equipment from Adtran, which called our attention to the Blue Valley deployment. Adtran is conducting what it calls an “Enabling Communities, Connecting Lives” campaign to highlight companies such as Blue Valley that are using broadband to “re-invigorate downtown business and residential districts, connect classrooms with other learning centers around the world, and help attract new companies seeking to relocate out of crowded urban centers.” An Adtran spokeswoman said more announcements similar to the one from Blue Valley are forthcoming.

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