Keith Galitz, who spent much of the formative part of his career in the Bell System working for Qwest, is taking an opportunistic tack to his service prospects as the president and CEO of rural operator Canby Telcom.
AT&T and Verizon may get all of the credit these days when it comes to last mile fiber and TV services, but Galitz' Canby, Ore.-based ILEC is also serving up its own share of IPTV and fiber-based services.
Compared to the big boys, Canby is small. With just over 11,000 access lines, Canby Telcom and its cooperative members serve about 9,000 customers within an 84 square mile service area.
Despite its size, Galitz believes that Canby and other independent telcos fill an important role to their constituency that's not beholden to Wall Street whims.
"The fact that the local telephone cooperatives are part of the local community, we look for a longer return on our investment versus an immediate return," Galitz said. "I hope that the FCC takes that into consideration as they look at their transition plan. I don't think they are seeing that it's not the AT&Ts and Verizons of the world investing in rural America; it's the rural telcos that are investing in rural America."
The service provider has been aggressively overbuilding its territory with fiber. This year it plans to pass 40-50 percent of homes in the Canby area with FTTH. Over that pipe, it is delivering a mix of high-speed broadband that ranges from 10 Mbps download speeds on the low end to 60 Mbps on the highest end.
All that fiber being plowed into the ground for residents, not surprisingly, is fodder for its business services, including schools. Currently, the service provider said its sweet spot for fiber-based Ethernet service is between 10-20 Mbps with some customers wanting 50 Mbps. In addition to fiber-based Ethernet, the service provider is seeing growth of business voice services.
As a wireline-only service provider, the biggest challenges for Canby in 2010 will be in not only in meeting its fiber and IPTV goals, but using them to offset ongoing residential PSTN line losses.
"The access line losses that we have experienced have been two-fold," Galitz said. "The initial issue was economic conditions and people cutting back and the switch to wireless-only. What's happened is the economic disaster this company has faced has exacerbated wireless-only movement."