There goes the fiberhood: Optico moves into communities, connects first 1Gbps users

6 Jun 2014

Puerto Rico’s first 1Gbps-capable fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband internet service was launched on 3 June 2014 by Critical Hub Networks under the ‘Optico Fiber’ banner. The service is available exclusively for residential customers, offering symmetrical download/upload speeds of up to 1Gbps, and unlimited (fair usage policy) data caps. Local news site reports that Critical Hub is making Optico Fiber available in communities (known as ‘fiberhoods’) which meet minimum sign-up goals under a model similar to Google Fiber in the US whereby would-be customers request services via the Optico Fiber website. The first seven fiberhoods given the FTTH service are in the capital San Juan, the company confirmed, adding that it will ‘continuously’ open new fiberhoods as engineering works are completed. Karen Larson of Critical Hub told Newsismybusiness: ‘We are using Google Fiber’s model. The investment is a joint effort between Critical Hub and the community … The first fiberhoods which are open for Optico sign-up represent approximately 10,000 households … Our engineers are finalising plans [for] more than 100 additional fiberhoods.’

Four Optico Fiber package options are initially available: a standalone up-to-1Gbps symmetrical broadband connection costs USD70 per month (‘plus taxes & fees’); 1Gbps broadband bundled with fixed telephony costs an additional USD20. For both the aforementioned options a USD300 one-off installation fee is waived in return for signing a 24-month contract. There is also the option of receiving ‘free’ broadband at the much lower speeds of 4Mbps/1Mbps (down/upload)if paying the USD300 construction fee (over six monthly installments), while a phone service can be added to the 4Mbps/1Mbps free monthly internet package for USD20 a month.

In a related development, the same Puerto Rican news source reports that the Puerto Rico Aqueduct & Sewer Authority (PRASA) has launched a project called ‘Zum’, under which it will utilise its existing infrastructure to deploy a high speed fibre-optic network across the island to support the expansion of super-fast broadband. The USD17 million project is scheduled to start before year’s end, with the deployment of infrastructure between Isla Verde and Old San Juan – a district of the capital which has been hampered in terms of broadband access due to restrictions on digging up its centuries-old streets. The utilities agency stated that the entire Old San Juan islet will be connected to the high speed fibre network ‘in a year’. PRASA’s infrastructure project is in line with a government pledge to become a ‘Gigabit island’, with ‘Zum’ aimed at providing the necessary underground infrastructure to reach virtually all homes and businesses in Puerto Rico, a spokesperson claimed.