Municipal Broadband Toolkit: Business models

Every broadband deployment has a business model that will sustain its operations – and municipalities across Alberta are employing a variety of them.

From privately-owned to publicly owned to blended ownership structures, there is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach.

There are typically three (3) layers to a broadband network that determine its business model. They are:

  • Network Infrastructure layer (‘owns the network’) – the physical components that make up the broadband network.
  • Network Operations layer (‘operates the network’) – operates and administers the infrastructure layer, and performs functions including: wholesale of network capacity, network traffic prioritization, network issue management, among others.
  • Retail layer (‘providers retail services to residents’) – delivers services directly to consumers (i.e., residential and commercial).

Open Access Networks (OANs) are increasingly becoming the ‘business model of choice’ for municipalities. In an OAN, a municipality typically builds and ‘owns’ a single network that is capable of servicing its region or community. It will either manage or contract out its network operations, and then invite various retail Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to use the municipal broadband infrastructure to deliver services to their community.

For more information, Alberta Municipalities developed a Municipal Broadband Toolkit to help members navigate these complex and transformational projects.