In 2014, Greg Turton, a small real estate developer in rural Georgia decided to see what it would take to build a FTTH network. He contacted The Fiber Optic Association for guidance and started learning all he could about FTTH. During that initial year, he also applied for and received a State Franchise agreement which allowed him to dig in the utility right of way corridors along road sides.
In 2015, he made the plunge to build the network. With just one full time employee, and directly renting backhoes and boring machines (and paying for crews on an as needed basis), Greg provided gigabit Internet to 150 homes (and passed 400 homes) within a year. With $150K in initial capital costs, he broke even on an operating basis within that first year.
He found that learning the technical trades of being an ISP and fusion splicing fiber was fairly straighforward. Perhaps the trickiest part was learning the tradecraft of avoiding existing underground utilities.
Southern uses direct bury armored cable rather than the conduit and cable approach when laying fiber in the country, but uses 1 1/4" conduits for city streets. Direct bury is cheaper and quicker to install, but will result in longer restoral times should a cable get cut. He uses a field GPON 1-32 splitter system that again saves on cost, and uses a mixture of above ground pedestals and below ground vaults to house the splitters.
Southern has two residential pricing tiers. $89/month for 100 Mbps, and $149/month for 1 Gbps. Businesses get charged more depending on their needs.
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