WideOpen Blacksburg is live!

WideOpen Blacksburg's first two fiber to the home neighborhoods went live with Gigabit fiber and super-fast Internet in 2017. We will be working quickly to identify the next neighborhoods in Blacksburg and the New River Valley to receive our Gigabit fiber service in 2020, and expect to continue installations until the network is built out in that area.

Railroads and fiber: Part II: The Incumbents

As I continue to read "A Great and Shining Road" about the building of the transcontinental railroad in the 1860s, I continue to be amazed at the number of parallels between that project and the effort to get fiber to homes and businesses today.

While the scale of the two projects is different (the railroad was going to span the continent, while fiber needs to be built within towns and cities), the *resistance* to the project is the same.

Some of the fiercest opposition to the proposed transcontinental railroad came from the incumbent railroads, who saw competition as a bad thing. The incumbents got newspapers to print mis-leading articles and they wined and dined legislators and told them there was no need for another railroad. One railroad magnate even grandly pronounced that there was no need for a transcontinental railroad because hardly anyone traveled between the East Coast and the West Coast.

Of course, there were few travelers because there was no easy way to get across the country--sailing around the tip of South America or traversing the Isthmus of Panama (death from yellow fever was common), or braving Indian attach going cross country were the only three options. Today, we have incumbent telecom providers saying the same thing: "No needs a Gig of bandwidth because no one is using a Gig of bandwidth."

Well, you can't use it if you don't have it.

Here we are, more than 150 years later, repeating history, fighting the naysayers and entrenched interests.

Of course, we know how things turned out for the "crazy" concept of a transcontinental railroad: it transformed the nation and unleashed decades of economic growth across the entire country.

Railroads and fiber: Repeating history

I've been reading "A Great and Shining Road," by John Williams. It tells the story of the development of the transcontinental railroad, and has much detail in the beginning about the development of rail transportation in the U.S., as it started on the east coast.

The parallels to the last decade of development of fiber networks is remarkable. There was fierce opposition to the railroads from the entrenched canal and toll road owners and operators. It was difficult to get financing for the newfangled railroads because wealthy investors did not want to take any risks; they wanted to stick with the tried and true "old" transportation systems.

Fiber is the transportation system of the 21st century, but it is still seen as a risky investment by many. How is it a transportation system? Here is just one example: music. Music used to require physical roads to deliver records/CDs to customers. Today, music is *transported* by fiber networks directly to customers.

If you substitute the cable and phone companies for the toll road/canal owners of the railroad era, there is an amazing overlap in the issues of economic development, entrenched interests, investment capital, and community infrastructure.

In the end, railroads unleashed a long period of rapid economic growth, but the railroad visionaries had to overcome resistance from many sectors of the government and the economy.

WideOpen In the News

  • WideOpen is designing and building a county-wide high performance broadband wireless network in central Virginia.  Work includes site planning and construction of an expected eight towers.
  • In mid-2017, WideOpen will finish construction on a 20+ mile network in Missoula, Montana for the K12 schools.  Portions of the network are already lit and delivering 60 Gig of bandwidth to each of nineteen schools.
  • WideOpen and Design Nine built a 23 mile Gigabit fiber network in Bozeman, Montana in record time and under budget in 2016.
  • Design Nine completed a full citywide broadband plan for the City of Bozeman, Montana in early 2015 (Design Nine is a sister company to WideOpen).
  • Design Nine completed a full countywide broadband plan for Louisa County, Virginia in the spring of 2015  (Design Nine is a sister company to WideOpen).
  • WideOpen Networks Wins Network Operations Contract with Wired Road
  • WideOpen Networks Wins Network Operations Contract with New Hampshire FastRoads
  • WideOpen brings Gigabit services to The Wired Road network
  • WideOpen is providing network monitoring services to the City of Danville's nDanville network
  • WideOpen is developing a city-wide high performance fiber network design and business plan for Decatur, Illinois
  • WideOpen has partnered with Blacksburg Broadband LLC to provide network design, project management, and network management services for Blacksburg Broadband's WideOpen Blacksburg town-wide fiber to the premises project.