Atherton FTTH plan has seed money and a quick timeline

11 July 2016 by Steve Blum
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Click for the big picture.

An Atherton venture capitalist put $500,000 into a fiber to the home project there. According to papers filed with the California Public Utilities Commission, Michael Farmwald made the investment in Atherton Fiber LLC, via his Skymoon Ventures Management Company, to get the ball rolling…

To finance the project, Atherton Fiber plans to raise approximately $3 million via a traditional investment mechanism and other interested Atherton residents. The remaining funds would be raised by selling interested property owners a “set” of bundled fibers to their home that they would own directly.

At this point, Skymoon Ventures Management Company owns 90% of Atherton Fiber, with the other 10% held by newly hired CEO Robert Hayes. It’s applied for a certificate of public convenience and necessity from the CPUC, asking for expedited permission to operate as a telephone company. The application included a bank statement showing $400,000 still on deposit, at least as of February, and a fiber construction plan by a Pleasanton engineering company, that might account for most of the rest of the original investment.

Farmwald is working with the Town of Atherton, and has conceptual agreement to a Google Fiber-like plan: the city looks kindly upon the project and leases space for a fiber hut. Atherton is a wealthy city, even by Silicon Valley standards. In recent years it has ranked as the most expensive zip code in the U.S., according to Forbes magazine.

Total capital cost of the project is estimated at $4.8 million, but that doesn’t include most of the connections from the fiber in the street to subscribers’ homes. Plans call for it to reach all 2,500 homes in Atherton by of the end of next year and use a mixed business model that involves selling – technically, leasing – dark fiber directly to residents in order to raise capital, as well as offering them ongoing retail Internet service and providing wholesale connections to other ISPs.

Atherton Fiber CPCN application
Business and engineering plan exhibits
Full set of exhibits (10 MB)
Atherton Town Council staff report, 15 July 2015
Atherton Fiber presentation to Atherton Town Council, 15 July 2015