Salem, MA, set to follow in Fullerton’s footsteps, becoming a SiFi FiberCity®
To allow its citizens to reap the benefits of a 100% fiber optic internet, the city of Salem, MA, signed a contract attracting over $35 million of private investment to create a citywide, fully fiber-based broadband network.
The network will be built by fiber infrastructure developer, SiFi Networks and its construction partners. The project will be privately funded by SiFi Networks, with no taxpayer subsidy. With projects like this, the company will transform the US broadband model by operating citywide networks that can be used by multiple service providers, mobile carriers and even the municipality itself.
SiFi Networks currently has agreements with cities in six different states to fund, build and operate fiber optic networks. The company has an initial $450 million of capital committed for the coming months with access to an unlimited pool of infrastructure capital to roll out the strategy to hundreds of cities in the coming years.
A recent study by the University of Tennessee suggests that competitive fiber networks stimulate financial growth and deliver substantial choice for consumers, with 40% of all jobs created in Hamilton County during the study period attributed to fiber infrastructure. Better connectivity facilitates access to remote learning platforms, e-health applications and home-working, something that has proven crucial during the global pandemic. Faster broadband will also incentivize business, stimulate the city’s economy and support the creation of new jobs — leading to new revenue streams and increased average income levels.
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will also benefit from a shared network because they can run their services on state-of-the-art fiber without the expense of having to build and maintain their own infrastructure.
“We’re excited that SiFi and their team will be starting construction on their high-speed fiber network this spring,” said Salem Mayor, Kim Driscoll. “Having a high-speed fiber internet alternative can improve the quality of life for residents, spur greater economic growth and facilitate the installation of smart city technologies. Enhancing access and options for high-speed internet is especially essential during our response and recovery from COVID-19, as we strive to close the digital divide, help more residents access vital online services for work, education and family connections, and simply provide greater choices for our residents and businesses.”
Unlike in most European and Asian countries, open access broadband is not common in the US, where the exclusive ownership of broadband networks led to the creation of monopolies that dominate the telecommunications market, inflating prices and depriving consumers of choice.
To overcome these issues, the City of Salem selected SiFi Networks to build a privately-funded, independently-operated fiber network. This will guarantee unprecedented broadband quality for all — regardless of average income levels or demographics — and realize what SiFi Networks calls a FiberCity®.
In 2019, SiFi Networks began constructing the citywide network in Fullerton, CA, enabling citizens with fast fiber broadband speeds, a greater choice of internet service providers, and the possibility to implement smart city applications such as AI-based traffic control, environmental monitoring, smart lighting and more.
Ben Bawtree-Jobson, CEO of SiFi Networks, explained that these benefits will extend to the whole community: “Traditionally, service providers who are also infrastructure providers look for a quick return on investment, so they tend to limit the construction of fiber networks to areas with a higher density of wealthy consumers.
“This has exacerbated the country’s staggering digital divide. SiFi Networks has a different business model. We are interested in long-term investments, so we build citywide. We believe that excellent connectivity helps level the playing field.”
“SiFi Networks has already identified more than 200 cities that could become FiberCities® in the future and bring fiber to over ten million households across the US,” said Bawtree-Jobson. “We are excited about changing America’s telecommunications landscape and eliminating the digital divide wherever we build our FiberCities®.”