After we were done speaking he said that he'd be interested in investing in the project. I thought that was really great news, not because I'm looking for investors at the moment, but because he could see the value of the project without being someone involved directly in telecom.
I'm moving forward in steps to put this together. First, I'll work on putting the conduit in the ground in our residence. I won't need investors for that portion. The conduit would likely be a risky part of the investment because there is no guarantee that I will be able to convince an operator to connect with us. Obviously having a conduit for fiber in the ground would pay off one day (at least in terms of connectivity). The big question is how to recover that initial investment. I can take the risk because I'm more interested in learning everything about this than recovering this part of the investment.
However, outside money will likely play a part in the second stage of the project. I may need to raise some money to run fiber between our residence and the exchange in St Nom (where we could potentially interconnect with a number of operators). The numbers here wouldn't be huge - probably in the EUR 40,000 range, but this is where I'd start looking at financing options. Given the willingness of my friend to participate I may consider approaching the people in the residence in becoming co-owners of the fiber between the exchange and our residence. That could be a win-win situation because it would increase their incentive to actually use the line themselves.