Muni Nets Offer New-Business Lift

Eagle Broadband may be busy building its own fiber-to-the-home networks, but that doesn't mean it won't consider running someone else's system.

Six months ago, Eagle decided to expand its business to include cable-network overbuilds funded by small communities, mostly in the Midwest and West. Eagle is now in talks with several municipalities about offering voice, video and data services on these publicly funded networks.

"Many of them are going all the way — they are building the rings and then putting in the connectivity to the outside wall of the house," said Eagle president and chief operating officer Manny Carter. "Then they are looking for someone to come in and run it, to provide the content."

The company has not signed a formal contract with any municipalities, but "we have six to eight we are negotiating with," said Eagle founder, chairman and CEO H. Dean Cubley.

And more are calling up. Carter said he is receiving three or four calls a week from communities. It may be a ripe business opportunity, given the service provider ranks have been dramatically thinned with demise of High Speed Access Corp. and other outsource network operators.

But Cubley doesn't expect that situation to be permanent.

"Will there be some other competitors? Certainly," he said. "But right now, we have been very fortunate I think to fall into a market niche here that no one has addressed, and it is a real need of these cities."