Options for Fiber in the Public Sector

Monday, January 17, 2022

Fiber Light’s Public Sector Team – Finding Solutions, Delivering Broadband to Rural Communities

When the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered offices, made schools transition to online learning and accelerated the transition to telemedicine, access to secure and reliable high-speed internet emerged as a critical resource. But for many people living in rural communities, the lack of broadband access left them isolated and unable to connect to essential services — highlighting a digital divide across our country that has been growing as technology continues to evolve.

Recognizing that broadband connectivity is the engine that drives business forward and supports community growth, FiberLight’s Public Sector team works to find solutions that deliver next-generation technology to underserved rural areas. By raising awareness of the need for broadband for all, working to connect communities with available funds and resources, and establishing strategic partnerships, FiberLight’s Public Sector team helps municipalities, schools, healthcare organizations, and businesses access the networks that will help them to grow and scale into the future.

Promoting Awareness

Broadband access in rural areas promotes job and population growth, supports direct access to education and health care, increases business development and home values, and often correlates with lower unemployment rates. Yet despite the clear advantages of access to high speed networks, too many Americans still lack this critical infrastructure.

According to a Pew Research Study, rural Americans have consistently lower levels of technology ownership than their urban counterparts, and lower broadband access than people who live in the suburbs.

Covid laid bare the implications of limiting access to high speed internet as productivity in underserved areas came to a standstill. And while funding for rural broadband has become a priority for government at the local, state and community levels, the key to bridging this divide is ultimately held by service providers. Companies with industry knowledge must exercise leadership by promoting awareness, connecting key stakeholders with critical resources, forging strategic partnerships and deploying network expansions to support sustained growth.

Over 20 years of connecting underserved areas in Texas

  • Connecting out on the edge
  • Providing more geographic coverage than some of the biggest carriers
  • Helping community leaders reach project goals
  • Tapping into our experience making a difference by partnering with fringe communities

Maximizing grants and existing funding

Until now, one of the biggest challenges for expanding networks into rural communities has been the high cost of installing the necessary infrastructure to support broadband access. To help offset these costs and level the playing field for rural communities, federal, state and local governments have created multiple programs and grants that are designated to provide funding to deploy dark fiber networks and enable broadband access.

The recently passed Infrastructure Bill that was signed into law and promises $65 billion in funding for “broadband for all” represents the most comprehensive program ever created to close the digital divide. While the logistics regarding how these funds will be allocated are sorted out, there are other grants and financial resources that are available now and could potentially expire if unused.

FiberLight’s Public Sector Team helps municipalities identify the funding mechanisms that support broadband expansion.

Our Public Sector team has decades of collective experience in uncovering funding sources, researching grant opportunities, and discovering what has been allocated for infrastructure so we can tap into those resources and subsidize fiber build-outs.

“We take an ‘inside out’ approach to working with economic development councils, schools and hospitals.” said Mike Ellison, Vice President of Public Sector for FiberLight. “By first getting them to the table, connecting them with resources and growing opportunities, we can expand our broadband access to a wider offering.”

Forging Partnerships

Texas represents FiberLight’s largest network geographically, and the Public Sector team also operates in Georgia, Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia and Florida. As a success-based company, FiberLight is focused on where our assets are today and where we can leverage those assets and to support community development for our partners.

At FiberLight, we take a team approach to bridge the digital divide. We have experience in building out networks in underserved communities and our partners also understand the unique challenges of working in rural areas. Our strategy of “Fiber first, enabling and partnering” enables us to drive growth and assure scalability for our community partners.

Delivering solutions

It’s true that we are a smaller company, but we can bring the large fiber assets and operate in a way that can be more flexible and adaptable to best serve our Public Sector partners.

“Foundationally, broadband improves the quality of life all the way around. Broadband is kind of like soil. The healthier soil, the stronger the growth of your city, your towns, and your businesses.”

– Mike Ellison, VP Public Sector, FiberLight

With 97% of our fiber network in the ground, we are positioned to continue to build out high-capacity networks that keep community access to broadband up and running. As we continue to expand into rural communities, we are dedicated to maintaining those networks and delivering unparalleled customer experiences. We understand the critical need to stay connected, provide scalability and facilitate growth.

FiberLight’s Public Sector team truly cares about community development – from helping community partners with procurement, to technical support, to discovering the budget that best meets a project, and bringing in partners to make broadband access a reality.