FiberFirst takes flight on Ubiquity's open access network

FiberFirst service is now live in Mesa, Arizona, riding on Ubiquity's still-growing open access network infrastructure.

Following a soft launch in November, the Dobson Ranch neighborhood and its surrounding areas will be the first to get access to FiberFirst’s service plans, including speeds of up to 5G for homes and multi-gigabit solutions for businesses.

The provider’s flagship 1-gig service costs $75 per month. It also offers a 2-gig service for $115 with plans to introduce a 5-gig symmetrical tier in the first quarter of this year, according to Bryan Davis, FiberFirst's EVP of sales and service. Other, lower speed tiers are also available, with “a plan for every use case,” Davis told Fierce Telecom.

FiberFirst serves businesses in the area with variable rate pricing on the same speed tiers. All plans come included with a router and uncapped data usage, and the provider will soon introduce an IPTV service as well as a VOIP phone service, supported by double and triple play plans.

An open access infrastructure enables multiple service providers to deliver their services over the same shared physical network, usually operated by the network builder. FiberFirst is active across Texas and Nebraska on other open-access infrastructure like Ubiquity’s in Mesa.

The benefit of open access networks? “They move quickly,” Davis said. “Being just the ISP, we can remove ourselves from things like constructing the fiber network and managing it in the background.”

That allows FiberFirst to focus 100% on customer service, its products and the overall experience by being active in the community. “We’ve found these open access networks work extremely well – they are brand new, have a ton of capacity and we can ride the wave early, right after the build is completed,” Davis added. “There’s no limitation on speeds we offer, and we have plenty of room to grow in support of our customers future needs.”

Ubiquity looks to expand open access fiber in Mesa

Building upon an existing footprint in southern California and Texas’ Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin metro areas, Ubiquity in August launched its open access networks in Mesa and Carlsbad, California. But it's not done yet, with more expansion plans for Mesa in the works.

FiberFirst is currently its only anchor tenant in Mesa, and Ubiquity is also partnering with the Texas-based ISP as it pursues access licenses to extend the network into private HOAs and multi-tenant buildings — “something Ubiquity is actively focused on in Mesa and other markets,” said Greg Dial, Ubiquity’s managing director and chief revenue officer.

“Our goal is to service anything our fiber might pass,” Dial told Fierce. Ubiquity views the vertical and private spaces with "as much importance" as single-family neighborhoods in public rights of way. The company's Smart Buildings team is spearheading that effort, and has partnered with FiberFirst as a service provider option.

For its part, Mesa is an active market. Last year Google Fiber joined Lumen Technologies as one of the only big name operators to offer a symmetrical 8 Gbps broadband tier in the city. Cox is another incumbent there, and fiber projects from SiFi and Wyyerd were also announced last year.

But Mesa is also a very large market, and while there are other fiber builders there, Ubiquity hasn’t seen much direct competition in its build areas, according to Dial.

Where Ubiquity differentiates as an open access network is in its speed of build. "We’ve successfully passed tens of thousands of addresses in the Mesa market since we started last year and continue to build at a rapid pace,” he said. And Ubiquity plans to make more significant build progress in Mesa in the coming months.

Ubiquity is “in discussions” with more service providers interested in servicing customers in the area. The company foresees what Dial called “a realistic option” where current vertically integrated builders/ISPs may opt to use already-completed open access networks instead of choosing the high expense of overbuilding the same areas again.