NATOA awards Westminster, MD and Ting the “Community Broadband Innovative Partnership of the Year”

By Michael Goldstein

A few hours ago, The National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) announced the recipients of their 2015 Community Broadband Awards.

NATOA is a professional association for local governments, specifically fighting any good fight that will help these communities get better access to telecommunications and broadband Internet services. These awards are intended to recognize people, towns, companies and initiatives each year that advanced the cause of broadband deployment and adoption in local communities.

Aside from bringing your attention to a great organization and a bunch of worthy recipients, we are proud to highlight that the City of Westminster, Maryland and Ting were named the “Innovative Partnership of the Year.”

First of all, it’s always kind of cool when multiple parties get an award together like that. It’s like the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line or the Chilean coal miners.

Second, it is just so fitting that we be recognized as partners and celebrated for our partnership. Cities and towns all over the US are pursuing fiber networks and Gigabit Internet service. A handful of good companies, large and small, are putting together offerings. What makes the initiative in Westminster so special is really how we are approaching it together.

That unique approach solves a few key problems.

We share the financial obligation and risk of building a fiber network that will service Westminster for the next century. We also share in the upside. So, Westminster has ensured that they will cover a portion of their investment, regardless of end user adoption. They have also ensured that they will benefit as adoption grows. It’s a smart deal for them and it feels like a great bet to us.

We have agreed to an open access model. For a period of time at launch, Ting will be both the exclusive network operator and the exclusive service provider. After that, while we will maintain the exclusive role of network operator, we will open up the network to competitive service providers. That gives Westminster the dual benefits of stability and competition. They know that the network will be managed competently by one closely managed relationship. They also know that their businesses and residents will benefit from having many providers competing to offer them the best service at the best price.

Finally, in the end, Westminster maintains complete ownership of this wonderfully valuable asset, their own fiber network. They were smart enough to foresee that would enjoy its benefits and its financial returns for many, many years. We simply and frankly agreed.

As we have said before, we are grateful to Mayor Utz, Dr. Wack, the council and all the people of Westminster for their vision and partnership. Now, we are grateful to NATOA for recognizing it.

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