How the
Northwest Connects

Open Access Networks for Local Broadband Competition

Your municipality has broadband assets; you’re not alone on how to use them.  NoaNet has a plug-and-play solution to get your community the services they need.

A reliable and efficient broadband network is essential in today’s digital world. Unprecedented public funds for infrastructure in unserved/underserved populations are available to local government. However, engineering a network, developing and maintaining Internet Service Provider (ISP) relationships, and maintaining services are complex and time-consuming tasks. Here, the use case for Northwest Open Access Network—NoaNet—becomes clear.

In the U.S., most of the investment dollars for broadband to this point have flowed to traditional (retail) delivery models, where a single entity handles the network deployment, operations, marketing, and service and then is the sole provider on the infrastructure. Open Access networks offer an alternative that gives the public more control over the infrastructure that serves them, and that offers big benefits to end consumers. Rather than one provider having sole discretion over the network and a monopolistic environment, consumers in an open-access environment now may choose multiple ISPs. This path also provides a means to keep the infrastructure funded by public funds, in the hands of the public to ensure providers live up to their promised speeds and that the network is maintained for the public’s use long-term.

Architecturally, Open Access networks are not pricier or more complex (to design and deploy) than traditional networks, they provide excellent network coverage, and solid revenue-to capital expenditure ratios on top of the many benefits for the communities they serve. Open Access networks reliably tend to pencil out. When providers share the infrastructure, it only has to be built once rather than overbuilt each time a new provider wants to enter the market.

Some Open Access network developers have also been investing in software and associated features to build a marketplace-like experience for the consumer. NoaNet is no exception; we utilize COS Business Engine Software which ties together all aspects of any fiber-to-the-home venture, automating processes and providing a great customer experience. It also provides increased control of every aspect of a fiber business, allowing communities to affordably build out a given network.

To start the process of establishing Open Access in a community, we utilize our proven Community Broadband Solutions Program:

Step 1 – The “Road to Broadband:” Community Survey, Feasibility, and Initial Network Designs – This establishes “the bones” of needs, service gaps, budget, and how broadband can be deployed to your constituents.
Step 2 – Leverage the “Road to Broadband” findings and information to apply to state and federal grant programs for infrastructure funding.
Step 3- Once funded, NoaNet manages grant implementation, permitting, and construction management. This is a multi-phase effort, requiring deep expertise and nuance; we have just the people!
Step 4- Plug into the Statewide Open-Access Marketplace for services delivered over the newly constructed network. NoaNet manages your ISP relationships, and the ISPs manage the customer relationship.
Step 5- Serve your Community. Your community gains access to many ISPs and their services in a single portal through the statewide marketplace. The unserved homes and businesses now have access to high-speed affordable fiber optic-fed broadband services (and if there are still unserved or underserved pockets, Steps 2-4 can be repeated as needed).

Open Access enables a healthy, competitive environment and opening the door to new service providers as well as incumbents—the latter of which might opt into joining a new Open Access network built for a particular market (rather than upgrading its own network). Having an Open Access network doesn’t immediately imply that multiple service providers will come knocking. In fact, some municipalities deploy these networks with a prevalent ISP anticipated. However, in Washington’s open-access communities, we see an average of 7 ISPs operating in a given competitive market. As a future-forward model, open-access architecture leaves room for multiple players, fostering competition, affordability, and customer choice down the road.

With limited downside and low risk (due to its inherently rigorous, front-end planning), and the ability to offer customers multiple service providers, Open Access network models help communities win. When you’re ready to explore the benefits of Open Access for your constituents, NoaNet is here to help.

No ISP contracts.
No network to manage.
Reliable, fast Internet for your constituents.
Embedded Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) onboarding resources for qualifying households.

Northwest Open Access Network (NoaNet) is a not-for-profit wholesale telecommunications mutual corporation that has been serving Washington State since 2000. As a mission-driven organization, NoaNet focuses on bringing world-class telecommunications technology to hard-to-reach communities which lack access to high-speed affordable broadband services.