By: Zac Byrd, Marketing Associate & Hailey Farrow, Marketing Manager, on behalf of CostQuest Associates
About CostQuest Associates
CostQuest Associates (CQA) is a specialized broadband telecommunications consulting firm that offers a range of products and services to address various needs in the broadband industry.
With both broadband and data science experts and certified appraisers on staff, CostQuest specializes in:
- Economic Cost Modeling
- Broadband Planning & Mapping
- Governmental Broadband Advisory
- Network Valuation & Appraisal
- GIS Data Products
CostQuest’s Core Expertise
The CostQuest team is committed to developing high-quality solutions that not only enable broadband professionals and governments to reach their goals and succeed but also make a positive impact on the collective community.
CostQuest is known for its deep analytical approaches by blending real-world engineering principles, regulatory knowledge, economics, and data science together to create effective solutions for some of the most complex broadband challenges and projects.
CostQuest works with both public and private sectors, including internet service providers, government agencies, engineering firms, trade associations, and consultants in the broadband and utility industries.
In late 2021, CostQuest was awarded the FCC Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric contract to solve location accuracy issues and deliver a geospatial location dataset that acts as the foundational location data to support the FCC’s Broadband Data Collection process and National Broadband Map. This Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric is a pivotal component for initiatives to help close the Digital Divide across the U.S.
Many might know us from the FCC Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric data or ACAM projects; however, CostQuest provides a wide range of services and data products to serve various needs across the broadband ecosystem.
When CostQuest was founded in 1999 – the aim was simple: to untangle complex client problems with great integrity and precision. Over the last 23 years, CostQuest found its footing in broadband economics, mapping, network modeling, planning, valuations, appraisals, government advisory, and geospatial data.
CostQuest is proud to have valued over $1T in assets, created the ACAM model used by the FCC to distribute over $3B annually for high-cost areas, helped providers and regulators more granularly map broadband service, and continues to do so.
As the telecommunications and broadband industry evolves over time, our company mission remains the same. The CostQuest team aims to lead with our core values and give the broadband industry, policymakers, and regulators the confidence and assurance to make effective broadband and utilities decisions.
The love of the challenge and commitment to precision makes us who we are. CostQuest works to get it right.
CostQuest’s Core Services
CostQuest core services include Broadband Planning, Valuation & Appraisal, Governmental Broadband Advisory, and Address Matching & Georeferencing services.
Below is a brief description of each of the services CostQuest offers.
CostQuest specializes in crafting detailed cost profiles and revenue potential assessments to offer valuable insights tailored to your business needs. Your business is unique, so CostQuest builds every model custom to represent real-world assumptions.
Each business case provides a comprehensive overview of:
Demand in your area: CostQuest provides detailed demographic data and estimations of existing supply across technology types, allowing more informed decision-making on market demand.
Financial Details by Service Area: A comprehensive financial overview provides a clear understanding of an area’s revenue potential, allowing you to strategically identify opportunities. Our analysis includes intricate financial metrics such as take rates, projected market share, net income subscribers, and more.
Full Capital Breakdown: A breakdown of the upfront investment required for long–term successful operation and management of a specific area.
Overview of CostQuest’s Business Case Development
Cost Modeling is the cornerstone of CostQuest’s services (hence the name “Cost” Quest) and has grown to be a reputable firm in providing reliable and defensible solutions for broadband telecommunications and utility industries for over 20 years. CostQuest offers comprehensive solutions tailored to your specific needs and challenges, whether it involves network design, network rebuild, or technology development.
CostQuest’s Cost Models are meticulously crafted to reflect a deep understanding of networks and engineering principles for Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP), Fixed Wireless, and 5G technologies. These models have garnered the trust of industry professionals and are used to distribute over $3 billion annually in subsidy funding, guide Tier 1 providers in buildouts, and focus on state broadband program design.
Core technologies for CostQuest’s Cost Modeling services
CostQuest’s Cost Models are not simply estimates. They are the output of the most complex network modeling approach in the U.S. The costs and other data are derived from an engineered network, modeled with real-world design specifications, equipment costs, and labor costs.
CostQuest’s Cost Model approach captures many drivers of costs:
- Linear density
- Local labor rates
- Terrain and soil
- Thousands of other factors
- Labor Cost Differentials
- Regional adjustments
- Equipment/Material Costs
- Regional adjustments
- Equipment utilization
- Type of Build
- Cost to put the fiber
- Buried aerially or trenched
- Cost by plant type by distribution
- Cost of feeders and Central Office (conduit, pedestal, pole, depreciation, pole attachment rates, etc.)
- Cost to put the fiber
- Financial Factors
- Average life of an asset – economic life
- Cost of money/debt
CostQuest’s range of Cost Modeling services range from brownfield and greenfield buildouts, subsidy-based modeling, a full capital breakdown, and much more. CostQuest is committed to delivering reliable cost estimates to empower clients in their decision-making processes.
CostQuest’s Service Mapping solutions offer a comprehensive mapping visualization of your current service area and potential service areas to review expansion opportunities. CostQuest provides you with a complete view of current and potential user demand relative to your existing or planned assets. CostQuest’s Broadband Service Mapping not only shows you where you currently serve, but also where you could serve.
This service allows you to optimize your business growth opportunities by focusing on specific locations with high growth potential that allow you to capture more market share and ensure resources are used efficiently. Additionally, this service allows you to increase the accuracy and speed to inbound service requests and accelerate the turnaround time for reporting obligations on where you serve to support regulatory filing requirements for the FCC’s Broadband Data Collection and/or USAC’s HUBB programs.
An example of CostQuest’s Service Mapping process. The green checks represent broadband serviceable locations, and the red marks are unserved locations in the area.
In the valuation process, CostQuest’s aim is to generate a thoroughly documented and defensible opinion of value by considering all relevant factors that influence the appraisal of assets. The overall result is a comprehensive assessment that showcases the appraiser’s expertise and provides a solid foundation for a determined network value. CostQuest’s expertise extends nationwide and can value networks throughout the United States. With CostQuest’s commitment to accuracy, compliance, and industry expertise, CostQuest is a trusted partner to rely on for precise and reliable valuations and appraisals for your network assets.
CostQuest uses the Replacement Cost New (RCN) Valuation approach:
The RCN approach estimates the efficient cost of replacing an existing property with a comparable property with equal or greater functionality (also known as equal utility). CostQuest’s RCN models address both the “efficient cost” and “equal utility” issues through a transparent methodology, an impartial value story, and a flexible approach that aligns with your business.
The model calculates the economic investment for network components across all categories of infrastructure required to connect a specific service demand group. CostQuest’s model assumes the installation of forward-looking, commercially available telecommunications technologies and adheres to accepted engineering practices and procedures. The resulting RCN values are then used by an Appraiser (either your own or ours) to appropriately apply forms of obsolescence (i.e., Functional and Economic) and present a final value in jurisdictional filings.
Where accurate network valuations make a difference:
- Mergers & Acquisitions: Building fair valuations that adequately capture the true value of your network is critical for any financial due diligence. CostQuest specializes in developing comprehensive valuations that effectively account for jurisdictional transfer tax or purchase price allocation requirements.
- Property Taxes: Traditional book values do not always correctly capture the value of your network. CostQuest’s replacement cost new models can help you build fair valuations with taxing authorities and have been used in negotiations across the United States.
- Pricing & Rate Making: CostQuest offers obsolescent studies and valuation efforts to present a compelling case for pricing and rate making. These efforts assist in developing pricing strategies and rates that align with your company’s current and future goals.
What CostQuest values:
valuations to support your appraisal team:
If you have an appraiser and only require support for specific tasks, CostQuest is happy to join the team by building the RCN model, valuing the tangible assets, or performing a specialty study. CostQuest can seamlessly join forces with your appraisal team and tailor CostQuest’s services to complement your team’s efforts.
CostQuest works with state agencies to work towards universal access to broadband for all communities across the United States. State Governments are acting now to bridge the Digital Divide and Homework Gap by:
- Creating maps for stakeholders to see unserved areas of the state.
- Know how much of a budget is needed to connect unserved communities in your state.
- Structure the subsidy/loan program best for your goals.
- Assess funding applications with location-based cost estimates across the state.
CostQuest’s 3-Step Approach to improving State Broadband Network access follows as such:
Mapping all possible locations in the state will establish a strong foundation for broadband initiatives. A clear and well-organized list of serviceable locations provides valuable insights into maximizing the effectiveness of funding efforts.
Differentiate between served and unserved areas by accurately assessing broadband availability per individual location. By categorizing these locations at a granular level, state governments can gain a detailed understanding of current broadband coverage. This process involves leveraging a combination of publicly available, third-party, and proprietary data sources to ensure confidence in the accuracy.
Estimating the cost to serve is a critical aspect of state broadband programs. By building a statewide cost model that considers different technology types, government entities can develop a comprehensive understanding of the financial implications and feasibility of expanding broadband infrastructure. CostQuest has worked with various states to support their broadband initiatives, including Arkansas, California, Georgia, Maine, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. CostQuest is a trusted partner in assisting state efforts to bridge the Digital Divide and provide equitable access to broadband services.
CostQuest’s team of broadband telecom experts has earned trust in national efforts in the U.S. and internationally. With experience in designing and building broadband networks at scale, CostQuest understands that universal broadband access requires a cross-disciplinary approach. CostQuest’s expertise extends to developing wireline cost models for U.S. subsidy programs, influencing legislation, and collaborating with various federal governments worldwide.
CostQuest’s 3-Step Approach to improving National Broadband Network access follows as such:
Demand Mapping: CostQuest’s National Broadband Advisory leverages privately available data sources and proprietary statistical scoring logic to overcome gaps in public data quality. By combining these resources, CostQuest’s granular broadband map enables stakeholders to identify underserved areas with informed policymaking and a comprehensive view of broadband availability.
Technology Visibility: Service availability maps must account for the different ranges of technology types (Fiber, Fixed Wireless, Satellite, etc.). CostQuest’s expertise allows us to assist in structuring coverage data requests to ensure consistent inputs for the National Broadband Map. While CostQuest focuses on future-proofing broadband infrastructure, CostQuest recognizes the value of capturing legacy technologies like copper and DSL.
Cost Modeling for Nationwide Coverage: A CostQuest wirelines cost model currently supports the distribution of $3 billion per year in high-cost areas across the U.S. and is a valuable tool for estimating costs to serve the country. CostQuest can model across technology types (Fiber, Fixed Wireless, etc.) and business models (retail, public only, etc.) to produce costs to serve upfront and overtime for the entire country.
Trusted for 20+ years in the industry, CostQuest has a deep history in geospatial solutions and mapping. CostQuest has developed a rigorous approach to match addresses and location data to structures, roads, land, and infrastructure. CostQuest’s address-matching services prove valuable for federal and state regulatory filings and support better billing, provisioning, service qualification, and more service provider use cases. CostQuest also assists service providers with location-based filings related to High-Cost Universal Broadband (HUBB), Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), and other funding program buildout reporting.
CostQuest has taken the complex task of preparing service availability data and standardized it in a way that returns results that are difficult to replicate using in-house processes and data. CostQuest generates a secondary “infill” file of location IDs not captured in the file provided by identifying Fabric locations located on the same street segment as an address provided in the original file. This infill can fill gaps in knowledge of what customers are serviceable.
CostQuest provides address-matching services that categorize locations into six confidence categories. Each address is assigned an address match score, indicating the confidence level of the match between the provided address and the location ID.
The address-matching process utilizes fuzzy matching techniques, allowing for modifications in matching fields. This can include street directional changes like transforming “Ave.” to “Avenue.” The amount of fuzzy matching performed directly influences the confidence in the association between the provided address and the matched record.
CostQuest’s Data Products
CostQuest developed the BroadbandFabric Data Suites, which are Geographic Information System (GIS) location datasets that provide insightful broadband-specific data attributes at a coordinate/address level. These attributes include BDC service availability, addresses, building types, federally funded areas, cost to serve, competition, demographics, and more. The datasets cover all U.S. counties, states, and territories, ensuring comprehensive coverage.
Built by broadband experts, the BroadbandFabric Data Suites offer quality and reliable data to service providers, engineers, consultants, and government entities to enable more informed decision-making in broadband deployment, funding distributions, business planning, and policy development. Each BroadbandFabric dataset is available in an Excel.CSV file format and can be easily imported into any major GIS application, visualization software, network planning tool, SQL database, or other related applications.
CostQuest’s core Broadband Data Suites include:
- Broadband Serviceable Locations
- BroadbandFabric Service Landscape
- BroadbandFabric NetworkPlan
Overview of CostQuest’s BroadbandFabric Data Suites
- BroadbandFabric StatePlan
- BroadbandFabric CBG Ops Assessment
- BroadbandFabric LocationQual
- BroadbandFabric BroadbandMarkets
Users have various options to leverage the potential of this data, with the ability to:
CostQuest’s BroadbandFabric Use Cases
Precision: Committed to precision; CostQuest works to get it right.
Integrity: Committed to always doing the right thing.
Excellence: Creates excellent, effective, actionable solutions.
Respect: Respectful, supportive, and neutral.
CostQuest’s Company Values
CostQuest aims to continue to play a pivotal role in not only helping bridge the broadband digital divide but also advancing the broadband ecosystem as a whole, whether through the widely recognized FCC Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric data or through our niche consulting services.
CostQuest remains dedicated to precision, integrity, excellence, and respect and will continue on that mission by providing high-quality solutions that not only enable broadband professionals and governments to reach their goals and succeed, but also make a positive impact on the collective community.