Fiber network proposed for five Santa Cruz County communities

by Steve Blum • , , ,

Build an open access fiber backbone network through areas Santa Cruz County that are high priorities for economic development: that’s the recommendation county supervisors will hear later this morning when they consider a draft broadband master plan.

The study, prepared for the county by Design Nine, includes a number of useful recommendations about broadband policy and planning, but the center piece is an independently operated fiber system that focuses on five key areas of Santa Cruz County. It would directly connect some business, institutional and government locations, and could form the basis for fiber service directly to nearby homes. According to the report…

The potential projects are located in Davenport, Live Oak, the Medical Area, Upper 41st and the Aptos Area. There is also a larger project that groups Live Oak, the Medical Area and Upper 41st as part of the Urban Core Backbone. These are all areas where the [fiber initiative] could partner with local service providers to invest in a last mile fiber network.

It is clearly a conceptual plan. There are a lot of critical details that need to be fleshed out, not least of which is how to pay for it. The estimated cost of the core network – which doesn’t include all the lateral fiber, drops, electronics and other elements needed to deliver comprehensive fiber-to-the-home service – is in the $9 million to $10 million range…

This “whole network” estimate includes all segments for a total of 43 miles of new fiber construction and connects 193 buildings (out of a total of 4,176 passed). This initial fiber network would be considered the core for a larger buildout for the entire County.

No particular action is expected today, but the report should set the stage to move ahead in March with broadband policy reforms.