Gigabit for San Jose could cost Google a gigabuck

by Steve Blum • , , ,

The environmental review of Google’s possible fiber optic network in San Jose includes a surprisingly detailed description of the network, including diagrams of the local distribution system with breakouts by aerial and conduit routes. It’s a good primer for anyone interested in learning how a fiber to the home network is designed and built. According to the report…

Google Fiber’s FTTP infrastructure consists of four primary elements. In essence, the architecture of the FTTP build involves (1) installation of a Fiber Ring, (2) which is connected to Local Aggregation Sites (LASs), (3) which then connects to vaults (underground or in above-ground cabinets), and (4) finally connects to customers…

The majority of the approximately 2,300 miles (12,144,000 linear feet) of conduit required for the proposed Project would be installed using five construction methods―aerial installation, rock- sawing, HDD, and trenching/micro-trenching. Google Fiber anticipates 60 percent utilization of rock-sawing/HDD/trenching methods and 40 percent utilization of aerial installation, subject to change based on final design and construction constraints. The ratio could reach 80 and 20 percent underground and aerial installation, respectively, depending upon pole conditions.

Network construction costs alone could be on the order of half a billion dollars. That’s assuming a cost of $25 a foot to hang fiber on poles, including getting existing poles ready and replacing ones that are too far gone, and $50 a foot to install conduit. Could it be less? Yes. Could it be more? Hell yes.

Then you add in the cost of connecting to San Jose’s 300,000 or so homes, plus electronics, plus fiber huts, plus everything else it takes to start a business of that scale, and the tab creeps closer to a cool billion.

Even if Google decides to build an FTTH network in San Jose – it’s far from certain at this point – it likely won’t be spending anywhere near that much money initially. The Google Fiber strategy is to cherrypick neighborhoods based on early interest, and then build slowly from there. Even so, it’s an impressive investment.

City of San Jose’s draft initial study and mitigated negative declaration for citywide Google Fiber
Network diagrams (extracted from the above report)
Appendix A: typical facilities and fiber hut site plans
Appendix B: air quality report
Appendix C: noise report