2018 Cornerstone Awards

About the Cornerstone Award

Each year, a committee of industry leaders, analysts, and writers selected by Broadband Communities votes to bestow a half dozen or so Cornerstone Awards to private developments, municipalities, communities, companies, and individuals with outstanding accomplishments in the area of delivering telecommunications for the benefit of the end user. Since 2004, Cornerstone awards have included recognition for the most notable deployments of Fiber-to-the-Home in the U.S. and abroad.

Cornerstone Awards were originally established in 1989 as the Diamond Tier Awards and presented as recognition of achievement to companies providing cable services to the MDU industry (condominiums, apartments, hotels).

The Cornerstone Awards have been expanded to include and recognize achievements in broadband and telecommunications for all communities and municipalities, including residential multifamily (apartments, campus housing, active adult communities) and planned communities (multi-home developments, renewed urban areas).

Send nominations to Nancy McCain of Broadband Communities at nancym@bbcmag.com no later than February 15th.

Award Winners by Year:

2017 Awards

RS Fiber
Dedication, persistence and vision in securing the benefits of broadband for their communities
The citizens of Renville and Sibley Counties in Minnesota needed better broadband. Local officials came up with a plan for a multi-municipal system – and educated the community about it with help from our FTTH Primer. 
But bond attorneys didn’t think the plan would work. So the RS Fiber proponents came up with a new approach – a cooperative organization. And they came up with new funding, which included every financing mechanism you can think of, and then some. And a new rollout plan. 
Here's what our judges said: “RS Fiber overcame more obstacles than anyone should have to overcome to get broadband for the residents of Renville and Sibley Counties. And their efforts are paying off.” 

City of Wilson, NC Greenlight Community Broadband
Forging new paths for community fiber networks 
Greenlight is one of the most successful of all municipal networks, and the magazine has published several articles about things like its creative use of GIS. But here's one quick story: When told it could no longer sell internet service in the little town of Pinetops, Greenlight gave it away for free. (No one said they couldn't give it away!)
Our judges said, “Greenlight’s dedication to serving local citizens is undeniable.”

Valley Electric Association (Pahrump, Nevada)
Stepping up with creative solutions to help its electric customers get broadband
Valley Electric, like most electric companies, laid fiber for smart-grid applications. Because it’s a cooperative, it also decided to use that fiber to support its residents, businesses, farms and schools. As the CEO said, “If Valley Electric wouldn’t have stepped up, who would 
Our judges remarked, “This locally owned company understands the importance of broadband in maintaining the relevance and vitality of its communities.”

Outstanding Multifamily Partner Award
Ian Davis, Founding Partner, Davis, Craig & Taylor PLLC
In Recognition of his deep expertise and dedication to his clients 
Awarded by Multifamily Owners at the Broadband Communities Summit

2016 Awards

Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative and Owsley County School District (Kentucky)
For bringing the benefits of FTTH to rural America
Only a few incumbent phone companies have built fiber to every premises in their service areas, and PRTC is one of them. And in the mountains of Kentucky, that meant using mules to pull the cable through terrain where vehicles couldn’t go – so you can imagine how determined these people are.

Our judges were impressed not only by PRTC’s determination but also by its commitment to make Jackson and Owsley Counties “places where kids don’t have to leave home.” Part of that mission involves using the network for economic development, and part involves using it to improve education. One of the many creative things the school system has done is to hold online school days when it snows and the teachers and students can’t get to school. The mountain roads may not be passable in winter, but the fiber optic network never goes down!

Walton County, Florida
Demonstrating the power of partnership for better broadband 
We’re especially proud of this award because it’s a Broadband Communities Summit success story. Last year, Rick Wilson attended the Summit and was inspired by what he learned here to go back home and say, “We can do this, too!” The county commissioners, the school system, the Sheriff’s office, and other agencies all got on board to become the anchor tenants for a new fiber network, and they found a private partner, Southern Light, willing to invest.

Our judges said, “Creative solutions to improve broadband are available, but they require cooperation and planning – which Walton County amply demonstrates.”

Metro Development Group
Visionary leadership to create a Smart Gigabit Community 
This is yet another “partnership” story. To create a new, technology-centered community in Pasco County, Florida, Metro Development Group partnered first with the county to create a special planning district, and then with US Ignite for ideas about how to build a smart community from the ground up. You can read all the details in the current issue of Broadband Communities.

Our judges said, “A smart community involves more than connecting homes and businesses to the Internet … it uses technology effectively throughout all of its infrastructure. Metro Development Group understands this principle and is making it a reality.”

Outstanding Multifamily Partners Award 
Richard Holtz 
Expertise, integrity and innovation in multifamily technology 
Awarded by Multifamily Owners at the Broadband Communities Summit

2015 Awards

PANGAEA Internet
For bringing the world closer together through the power of the Internet
PANGAEA Internet, the pioneering nonprofit network in the foothills region of North Carolina. It’s very unusual – maybe unprecedented – for the same organization to receive two Cornerstone awards. In 2004, PANGAEA received an award for its vision and promise. Today, it’s receiving a second award for fully delivering on that promise. The Cornerstone judges noted that the network now connects customers at some 140 locations throughout Polk and Rutherford counties, including businesses, health care facilities, government offices and all the public schools, and has “contributed to dynamic economic development and helped to overcome the digital divide.”

For its renovation of the Lincoln Place Apartments 
Aimco recently transformed its 63-year-old Lincoln Place property, an architectural gem that was in need of rejuvenation, into a 21st century model of style, sustainability and communications perfectly suited to its location in the center of what is today called “Silicon Beach.” Our judges commended Aimco for being in the forefront of responding to the burgeoning interest in and demand for technology manifested by today’s apartment residents. They also noted the “elegant blending of historic style and beauty with the leading edge of digital convenience.”

Mayor Eddie Fulton of Quitman, Mississippi 
For being a broadband champion who rallied an entire community to support FTTH 
This award also has a bit of history. Last year, we presented a Cornerstone Award to C Spire Fiber, which is building out fiber to the home throughout Mississippi. To prioritize its build, C Spire used the “fiberhood” approach, asking communities to demonstrate interest in fiber services.

For the 2015 award, the judges turned their attention again to the C Spire initiative, this time to recognize leadership from C Spire’s partner communities.

The judges said, “Mayor Eddie Fulton is representative of other engaged and inspiring community leaders in the C Spire partnership. He also deserves special recognition as a dynamic champion of fiber to the home who rallied the citizens of Quitman to qualify for C Spire’s multimillion-dollar investment in their community.”

Thanks to the army of volunteers Mayor Fulton recruited, Quitman was the only town where the entire community qualified for fiber service.

2014 Awards

North American Properties
For vision and commitment in building technology infrastructure for the future – the new Avalon mixed-use development in Alpharetta, Georgia
The Cornerstone judges extolled Avalon for the “far-sightedness of its technology solutions, which allow for unconstrained bandwidth growth and flexible service delivery in the future, and the unprecedented vision and commitment to customer satisfaction behind the development.”

C Spire Fiber
For innovation in public-private broadband partnerships
The judges noted the ambitious nature of the C Spire “Get Fiber First” Challenge and the way in which C Spire has worked with communities throughout Mississippi. They praised C Spire for its “creative engagement with the communities it serves.”

The judges wrote, in part: 
“In leading the nation’s first and only statewide rollout of 1 Gbps service, C Spire is disseminating the valuable message that fiber to the home has the power to raise property values and transform communities into hubs for technology investment and economic growth. The town hall meetings created excitement and inspired government, community and business leaders to rally their towns to participate.”

Camden Properties 
Recognition of fiber broadband services as essential amenities For Camden NoMa and Camden South Capital - two brand-new luxury apartment communities that opened in 2013 in sought-after Washington, DC, neighborhoods.
“From the outset, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation identified libraries as vital community institutions. It led the effort to help libraries fulfill their potential through the use of digital technology – as well as through high-speed connectivity to digital resources. ”

National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the NTIA
Removing barriers to broadband deployment.
The judges praised Camden for decisions that were “unusual but apt.” They noted that “we don’t typically see luxury properties offering Fiber to the Home for everyone in an amenities package,” adding that Camden was “setting a great example in the real estate community” in recognizing that an up-and-coming generation of tech-savvy young professionals like those in the NoMa and South Capital properties “now see FTTH as essential.”

2013 Awards

The Virginian
A retirement community whose creative use of advanced broadband enhances quality of care for its residents.
The Cornerstone judges extolled The Virginian as a “premier Continuing Care Retirement Community where a friendly, caring atmosphere blends seamlessly with the best amenities technology can offer.”

The Honorable Sylvester (Sly) James of Kansas City, Missouri
The Honorable Joe Reardon of Kansas City, Kansas

In connection with the Google Fiber project, for great leadership in mobilizing collaboration for broadband within their two communities. 
The judges noted both the historic impact of the Google Fiber project and the fact that it was “an incredible achievement of communities.” And they recognized the vital role played by both mayors, who are named as the recipients of the award “on behalf of their communities.” The judges wrote, in part: “The mayors put their leadership skills behind this genuinely great accomplishment . . . These two engaging and effective leaders summoned the resourcefulness of their communities . . . the most inspirational and aspirational telecom project anywhere . . .. an undertaking that will ultimately improve the quality of life for millions . . .”

2012 Awards

LUS Fiber
Improving citizens' quality of life.
“By providing every subscriber with 100 Mbps in-network service; by deploying the network equitably across the city; by helping local schools reap the educational benefits of high-speed connectivity; by giving off-campus students direct links to their university network; by becoming one of the very few U.S. providers to offer gigabit Internet access – LUS Fiber has consistently aimed to use its fiber assets for the benefit of the larger community.”

Ivan Seidenberg
His visionary leadership resulted in the first large-scale deployment of FTTH in the United States.
“FiOS was a $23 billion bet on new technology and services. There were naysayers on Wall Street, and there were naysayers in Verizon itself. Ivan Seidenberg made the decision that FTTH was essential to the future of the company, and he was not dissuaded.”

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Bridging the access gap.
“From the outset, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation identified libraries as vital community institutions. It led the effort to help libraries fulfill their potential through the use of digital technology – as well as through high-speed connectivity to digital resources. ”

National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the NTIA
Removing barriers to broadband deployment.
“The NTIA has worked to create the conditions that are needed to make universal broadband possible.”

Award Recipient: Lawrence Strickling administers the agency that advises the President on telecommunications and information policy. A technology policy expert with more than two decades of experience, he leads NTIA initiatives to expand broadband Internet access and adoption and ensure that the Internet remains an engine for innovation and growth.

Larry oversaw the development and implementation of a $4 billion Recovery Act broadband grants program. Under his leadership, NTIA launched the first public, searchable nationwide map of consumer broadband Internet availability and crafted a 10-year plan to double the commercial spectrum available for wireless broadband.

Previously, Mr. Strickling led the FCC Common Carrier Bureau and the FCC Competition Division. In the private sector, he held senior positions at competitive communications providers and at Ameritech Corp. He was also a litigation partner at Kirkland & Ellis.

Mr. Strickling earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School and an undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland.

2011 Awards

Lev Gonick
Using Fiber to build an inclusive society and empower individuals.
“Lev Gonick is the guiding spirit behind two extraordinary community networks. First, he helped launch One Community, which has made the educational, health care and cultural resources of Northern Ohio accessible to all the area’s residents. Last year, he started the Case Connection Zone, a gigabit fiber-to-the-home project that aims to demonstrate how ultra-high speed access at home can improve the quality of life for the residents in a low-income community.”

Jane Smith Patterson
Driving rural economic development with broadband.
“Jane Patterson’s impact on public policy for rural broadband cannot be overstated. She is the leading voice of experience on making broadband available to all Americans, and she has been unfailingly generous in sharing her experience and wisdom with others in the field.”

Inspiring a city with gigabit fiber.
“EPB says it created its fiber optic network as a ‘tool for smart people to create smart things.’ That’s why it is bringing fiber to the homes of rural as well as urban residents; that’s why it’s offering gigabit service to everyone today -- not some day in the future -- and that’s why it’s using the network to create a smart electric grid throughout its service area.”

Horizon Bay
Using broadband to help senior citizens stay active and engaged.
“Horizon Bay’s philosophy is to help the residents of its retirement communities feel at home while staying fully connected and full of life. By deciding to make its flagship property, Horizon Bay at Hyde Park, a fiber optic community, Horizon Bay has given its residents new ways to stay connected with one another, with their extended families and with the wider world.”

2010 Awards

Reaffirming the Value of Community-Owned Fiber
Two years ago, many observers were writing off UTOPIA, and with it the whole experiment of municipal fiber to the home. Today, UTOPIA is leading the way in developing new financing methods and attracting cutting-edge services to its network.

Rybovich Super Yacht Marina and Refit
Preserving a Rich History With Cutting-Edge Technology
Yacht owners aren't an easy group to impress - but the managers of Rybovich Marina did it. Overcoming wind and salt water, they brought fiber to the slip to give their clients reliable Internet service while they were in port.

The Residences at Oella Mill
Reaffirming the Value of Community-Owned Fiber
By transforming a 200-year-old textile mill into a fiber-connected apartment community, Southern Management Corporation helped preserve both the history and the future of the town of Oella, Maryland.

Rural Utilities Service USDA
60 Years of Service To Rural Communities
Sixty years ago, when President Truman launched the rural telecommunications program, only one in three farms had telephones. Today, thanks to the RUS, fiber to the farm is a reality. Broadband helps to keep our rural areas connected and vital.

2009 Awards

Greenfield Communications Inc.
For Executional Excellence in Deploying FTTH
"Despite the downturn in new home construction, Greenfield continues to do well by selecting locations wisely; employing a network design that allows it to deploy infrastructure quickly and relatively inexpensively; working closely with homeowners associations; and providing great customer support."

Connexion Technologies
Retrofitting Existing Communities with Fiber
"Connexion Technologies successfully expanded its business model by cost-effectively deploying fiber to existing communities. To accomplish this, the company re-engineered its infrastructure configuration; deployed an innovative 'headend in a can'; and shortened its deployment time by half, now activating customers within 60 days of contract execution."

2008 Awards

BEK Communications Cooperative
Bringing next-generation broadband services to rural residents
"BEK proves that it's possible to bring customers the benefits of fiber to the home even in a service area with only one person per square mile. Their well-crafted business plan hit the small town centers first. They showed ingenuity in their rollout plan and their marketing efforts, and delivered exclusive local content that drove home the value of their offering."

Hiawatha Broadband Communications
Deploying broadband to improve lives and communities
"Hiawatha Broadband Communications has a vision of how broadband can improve the quality of life in small towns. Not only has it helped bring new employers to the towns it serves in southeastern Minnesota, it has also helped drive educational advancements in the high schools and colleges, and spearheaded an innovative town-wide online health service."

Tim Nulty, President of Valley Fiber
Helping Vermont communities achieve true broadband
"The citizens of Vermont wanted fiber to the home, and they knew that no one was planning to build it for them. So first the city of Burlington and then the ValleyNet nonprofit group, representing two dozen towns, brought in the one man who could make it happen - Tim Nulty."

Trump Organization
Providing residents with the ultimate in advanced, fiber-powered technology
"The last year has marked at the beginning of a new direction in broadband, the deployment of fiber to the premises in residential high-rise buildings. Leading the way is the Trump Organization. Led by Donald Trump, this company is known for its willingness to take bold steps, and its use of fiber is certainly a bold and visionary move."

Jointly overcoming the hurdles to IP video
"MFH3 is an elegant solution that demonstrates the synergy between satellite and fiber. It gives MDU owners the opportunity to provide virtually unlimited television channels over an in-building network."

2007 Awards

Bristol Virginia Utilities
Outstanding Customer Service
"BVU has been doing triple-play longer than any other Muni network in the country - and doing it very well. New customers can be on line in hours."

Far-Sighted Planning, Plus Bold Action in Delivering FTTH
"Home run wiring in a rural area? Think about it. No splitters in the field... and fiber cable is cheap."

Waterfront Toronto
Developing A World-Class Concept For An Ultra-Broadband Community 
"The massive Toronto waterfront development will be a city within a city, planned from the ground up not only to use broadband services. The broadband availability shapes the development, just as transportation networks shape all cities."

Helping Top Developers Deliver the Future, Today
"So you want to add broadband to your MDU or subdivision. Where do you plug in? Paxio's unusual business plan has brought ultrabroadband to the Oakland area, across the Bay from San Francisco. They have gigabit customers... and eyes for the rest of California."

Innovation of the Year for the MDU Market
"An improved twist on bend-tolerant fiber expands the segment and brings the day of everyday routine installation closer."

Affarsverken Karlskrona AB 
Most Advanced Broadband Network
"The potential of open access networks is highlighted in this old naval town - nonprofit medical establishments make the concept of triple play seem quaint."

Hafslund Telekom, City of Oslo 
Most Advanced Strategy for an Open-Access Network
"The Norwegians got it right, and on a large scale in Oslo."

Mosaic of Houston
Most Exciting Fiber Optic Condo Project Of The Year
"Mosaic shows how broadband technology sells condos."

Kellswater Bridge Development 
Best Marketing of FTTH in a Connected Community
"Kellswater is not only a great project, it also shows a great marketing plan. There, fiber really does compete with countertops in customer eyes."

2006 Awards

Interfibra (provider) & Tierra Urbana (developer)
Best Use of Fiber to Bridge the Digital Divide
For a development in Monterrey, Mexico
"Here is a superbly innovative business model that brings voice, video and data to low-income workers . . . Workers can buy the services they can afford on a month-to-month basis through a web interface."

Rockfire-On-The-Lake Development near Topeka
Best Midwest Development with FTTH
"Kudos to a developer who understands the value of fiber to home buyers . . . Rockfire on the Lake will have the first open access FTTH network in Kansas . . . Mr. Santaularia has committed to use open access in all of his future developments."

Tradition Development - Biloxi
Special Category: Post-Katrina Recovery
Best Use of New Urbanism Design with FTTH
"Arising out of the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, this mixed-use community fulfills a vision of what FTTH can mean for residents and businesses."

Carbine Development & Crystal Clear Technologies For Tollgate Village
Most Visionary TND - Traditional Neighborhood Development - with FTTH
"Tollgate village was created in true partnership with the community of Thompson Station, Tennessee, thanks to the leadership and vision of Carbine Development."

ComSpanUSA & Ledcor Technical Services
First Full-Rate GPON Fiber-to-the-Premises Network
"ComSpan and Ledcor are rolling out fiber to the premises in a small coastal city in Oregon."

St. Joe Valley Metronet
City of South Bend, Indiana

Community Fiber Backbone
"Immediate MAJOR benefits resulted from this public/private partnership. We hope it becomes a model for many others in the US."

Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company
FTTH and FTTB with Advanced IP Services
"EIT has the largest IT infrastructure in the Middle East, with a focus on innovative services for the present and future needs of its customers."

VolkerWessels Telecom
FTTH Network, City of Nuenen
"This is the largest FTTH deployment in the Netherlands . . . We were highly impressed with the technology behind this fully automated, open access network serving 8,000 households."

Verizon Enhanced Communities & Verizon
Nimble Execution of Mass FTTP Deployment
"For fiber installation that displayed not only technical prowess but agility all but unheard of in companies of this size."

2005 Awards

Michael Render, RVA
Public Policy Award For FTTH Research


Jackson Energy Authority 
Best FTTH Public Utility Network


Brambleton, VA 
Best FTTH Private Development


Loma Linda, CA 
Most Creative FTTH Deployment


Mälarenergi Stadsnät AB
Most Advanced FTTP Network


City of Manassas, VA
Best BPL + FTTx Project


Verizon Avenue
Provider of the Year: Multi-Family Communities

2004 Awards

Verizon Avenue
Provider of the Year
"2004 was the year of the first Verizon FTTH deployment in Keller, Texas, in August and BBP recognized the company for that historic event at its Summit."

Cheney, Washington
Municipal Fiber Network of the Year
"During Sooy's tenure fiber optics came to Cheney and connected all the city buildings and city wells. Cheney now had its own telephone system and new computers to transfer information."

Ken Rossen, PANGAEA Internet
Community Fiber Network of the Year
"Brought fiber to a rural area."

April 30 - May 3, 2018

Renaissance Hotel in Austin, Texas

Photo Gallery

Here's a glance at last year's Summit.

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