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SiFi Networks Announces Whole-City Open Access Fiber Network in Fullerton, California

Drew Clark

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SiFi Networks on Monday announced that it had obtained funding to build an open access fiber network through the whole city of Fullerton, California. SiFi will fund, build and operate the networks in partnership with Internet Service Providers, which will market services to individual households.

A mid-sized city in Southern California with a population of 135,151 in the 2010 Census, Fullerton provides a useful test case for making the open access model work in the United States.

The investment in SiFi comes from the Smart City Infrastructure Fund, a global investment fund managed by Whitehelm Capital and backed by APG, a pension delivery organization in the Netherlands.

“We are excited to deliver our first FiberCity in the U.S., an investment that sets the standard for fiber optic infrastructure as a core utility," said Ben Bawtree-Jobson, CEO of SiFi Networks, in a press release.

Of SiFi Networks' business model of privately-funded, open-access networks, Bawtree-Jobson said, "We believe that our business model can transform the telecoms market in the U.S."

Although privately funded open-access networks have made significant strides in Europe, South Africa and some smaller U.S. marketplaces, America has been slow to see the rise of such networks.

In addition to enjoying a significantly upgrade of internet speeds that will accommodate the next generation of demand for data from households and businesses, these fiber networks will also facilitate government services such as traffic control, street lighting and emergency services. The network will also provide a platform for the future expansion of 5G wireless networks into the area.

“We are delighted to welcome SiFi Networks and its ISP partners Ting and GigabitNow to the city,” stated Fullerton City Manager, Ken Domer. “Having a true fiber optic network passing every part of the city is an amazing opportunity for Smart City applications, bringing competition to the city’s communication needs, and creating enhanced opportunities for economic development.”

“GigabitNow is pleased to be delivering true Gigabit Internet speeds at an affordable price to the residents and businesses of Fullerton,” said Stephen Milton, CEO of GigabitNow. “Working with SiFi over the last several years to find ways to bring fast, reliable, Internet to cities across the United States has meshed perfectly with GigabitNow’s overall goal of easy turnkey Internet solutions for communities of all sizes."

Elliot Noss, Ting CEO, said “Fullerton will be great for our business, and Ting will support a thriving economy and quality of life there. We are pleased to embark on a California footprint, and to see alternative business models emerging in the ongoing fiberization of America.”

(Photo of the old Spanish Mission in Fullerton, Calif.)

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