LS Networks continues expanding rural fiber-optic network

LS Networks says it's building fiber where other ISPs won't. The company recently said it's expanding its fiber-optic network in eastern Washington and rural parts of the state in order to offer service to businesses and residential customers in Yakima, Tri-Cities and Spokane.

The further expansion into Washington is part of LS Networks' plan to build out fiber network access in urban and rural communities not already served by other ISPs. For about 11 years, LS Networks has been extending fiber networks in parts of Oregon and California as well.

Bryan Adams, director of marketing at LS Networks, told FierceInstaller that LS Networks' projects in Washington began about three years ago and initially focused on providing fiber to the cell for mobile operators. This allow LS Networks to establish a middle-mile presence and modest local fiber rings in these rural markets, Adams said.

Adams said LS Networks has three key components that go into its rural community fiber installations. First, the company deploys minimum fiber counts of 288 to provide for network flexibility and adds a high volume of pre-spliced drops to simplify and reduce the cost of dropping fiber into small to medium businesses (SMBs) and residences.

Second, LS Networks operates a distributed core network which drives up capex but reduces opex over time, Adams said. LS Networks' core backbone is built on a 100Gb optical network using Adva Optical Networking DWDM equipment and a core data network made up of Nokia 7750 and 7450 service routers, Adams said.

"By pushing our core network into the local market we establish physical path diversity and core routing functionality within the community," Adams said.

Finally, LS Networks' ownership, which consists of four electric power cooperatives and a Native American tribe, says it establishes long-term planning and a sustainable operational model.

"While it is important we manage a sustainable business model, we have more flexibility to have open conversations with the local community, and current local ISPs, on establishing a long-term plan that matches the economic growth plan established by the community," said Adams. "In some markets this puts LS Networks as the primary ISP serving the community as a whole, while in other communities we work with the local municipal ISP or existing Wireless ISP(s) on establishing a broadband plan that meets the specific needs of the community."

The communities that LS Networks serves are typically smaller and rural markets that are passed by long-haul fiber networks but don't have on or off ramps to serve the community, Adams said. The company's typical installation process consists of fiber drops but sometimes includes fixed wireless microwave service for more difficult to reach businesses and residences.

LS Networks offers $40 100 Mbps and $70 1 Gbps services in the markets it serves and also opens its network to other service providers.

"This open network mentality ensures the community has access to broadband services but also the flexibility to attract local ISP businesses capable of creating jobs and technology experts within their local community," Adams said.

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