Tag Archives: lit san leandro

New dark fiber networks may soon light up Oakland

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Shining a little brighter.

The city council in Oakland, California voted last week to negotiate an agreement with a local group to build an interconnected dark fiber system, beginning in two areas at opposite ends of town.

The plan as presented is to start at the San Leandro border, tie into the Lit San Leandro network, and extend connectivity to the nearby commercial and industrial areas around the Oakland Airport. From there, the network would connect to existing fiber that runs along the Bay Area Rapid Transit rail line, bridging to a second dark fiber network to be built in downtown Oakland that’ll light up businesses as well as city facilities. Fiber would also be extended to an important community center and police station that serves East Oakland, opening up the possibility of stimulating economic growth in an area that sorely needs it.

The project was initiated by a group called Light Up Oakland, which proposes to carry most of the financial responsibility and own the private side of the business.

Although nothing has been agreed yet, conceptually the city could own some portion of the network’s capacity, and use it for public sector purposes, including pursuing policy objectives such as economic development, similar to the deal struck in San Leandro. In return, the city could contribute access to conduit and other facilities to support a dark fiber system.

The council also authorised contracts with an engineering company for technical design work and with Tellus Venture Associates to assist with negotiating the contract with Light Up Oakland. It’s a follow on to an earlier broadband master plan I did for Oakland and to the negotiations and planning work I did for the City of San Leandro as the Lit San Leandro project was developed and implemented.

Metro broadband: without the political cards, you’re not playing with a full deck

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Political value: the need for speed at the San Leandro public library.

There’s an argument to the effect that the prices charged for broadband service by telcos and cable companies in urban areas are higher than necessary to provide that service and make a reasonable profit.

It’s not crazy talk. You can make a case that more densely populated areas have lower per household costs – opex and capex – and that more affluent areas have higher profit margins. There are counter arguments too, not least of which is that telecoms network costs should be spread across all users. Personally, I favor the whole system approach – the more people reached, the more valuable the network – but the marginal cost approach has valid uses.

However, it doesn’t follow that an independent competitor in a metropolitan area will be able to charge less for equivalent service or the same for better service. The telecoms business has huge economies of scale: fixed operating costs are high relative to variable costs and large purchases by big companies bring hefty discounts. Particularly for television programming. A local competitor operates at a significant cost disadvantage.

A significant fraction (30%? 40%?) of households passed have to be willing to pay more ($50 per month more is a good placeholder) to either incentivize an incumbent to bring in fiber or support the operating cost and capital requirements of an independent system. The market research I’ve seen says that’s not happening.

People may value significantly better broadband services highly in many senses of the word, but not economically. At least not to the extent that an independent, privately financed metro scale FTTH overbuild in a competitive market is economically sustainable. Not yet.

Something else has to be on the table for an independent FTTH overbuild to work. Construction and operating subsidies, (significantly) below market rate financing, publicly owned assets are examples. In other words, you’re adding political value to whatever economic value is present in order to make a business case.

Whether the political value exists is a legitimate topic for debate, and some communities or state and federal policy makers might conclude that it is. The California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) is one example of policy-driven broadband investment. Leveraging a public owned electric utility, such as in Chattanooga (FTTH) or Palo Alto (dark fiber), is another. So is partnering up public assets and private investment, as in San Leandro. And there are more. And there are counter-examples too.

Claims made by some that ordinary metro FTTH overbuilds are self sustaining investments with no risk to taxpayers are at best distractions. For now, it is as much a political question as an economic one. Debate should be encouraged.

EDA opens new source for broadband funding with $2 million for San Leandro conduit

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The City of San Leandro will fill in key gaps in broadband availability in industrial and commercial areas, thanks to a $2.1 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The press release is here.

As far as we can tell, this award is the first ever given by EDA for a community broadband project, with credit largely due to the City’s economic and business development staff. They worked closely with the EDA to develop the innovative framework required and to meet the stringent requirements of the program. Tellus Venture Associates assisted staff during the process.

The money comes from EDA’s Public Works Economic Development Assistance program. It will pay for 7.5 miles of conduit, which will be connected to the City’s existing infrastructure. The new conduit will make it possible for Lit San Leandro, a privately funded fiber optic system, to extend the reach of its 11 mile network to more than 18 miles. The work is expected to be completed within a year.

Lit San Leandro, the brainchild of Dr. Pat Kennedy, the CEO of San Leandro-based OSIsoft, offers dark fiber and lit broadband services up to 10 Gbps to businesses along the existing route. The City and Lit San Leandro are working in partnership, with the City leasing conduit to the venture.

Thanks to this project, San Leandro is home to the fastest library in California. The main library is connected to the Lit San Leandro network and has clocked speeds in excess of 300 Mbps. It can do even better – right now, the limitation comes from the ability of computers to handle high data speeds, not from the network itself.

The new conduit will largely complete the job of making 21st Century broadband available to San Leandro’s industrial land. The three areas targeted – Doolittle/Adams, Marina/Catalina, Alvarado/Teagarden – were identified in a study conducted by Tellus Venture Associates, which has served as a consultant to the City throughout the negotiation and implementation phases of the Lit San Leandro project.

The study resulted in the approval by the San Leandro City Council last month of a strategic plan for commercial and industrial broadband development. Other action items identified include bringing additional fiber and wireless access to Downtown San Leandro, offering business assistance grants for broadband projects and adopting broadband-friendly planning, public works and community development policies.

Learn more by watching the San Leandro “Get Connected!” video.

Industrial and commercial broadband action plan, strategy adopted by San Leandro City Council

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Seven action plan recommendations and an overall commercial broadband strategy were unanimously adopted last night by the San Leandro City Council. The goal is to bring new jobs, businesses and shoppers into the City’s industrial and commercial areas by developing better broadband infrastructure and availability, and encouraging companies and consumers to take advantage of it.

The strategic vision and specific recommendations were developed by Tellus Venture Associates, working closely with City staff. Businesspeople, major employers, property owners, school officials and the general public were involved throughout the process, participating in online surveys, workshops, one-on-one meetings and other events.

The action items approved last night for implementation are:

1. Formalize and promote existing broadband-friendly practices.
2. Make broadband a standard planning review criterion.
3. Adopt a comprehensive open trench policy.
4. Pursue opportunities for lateral connections to major fiber routes.
5. Support Lit San Leandro on a nondiscriminatory basis.
6. Develop WiFi hotspots in Downtown San Leandro.
7. Support business connections to broadband service.

The City Council immediately followed adoption of the plan with approval for the Broadband Connection Business Incentive Program, which provides local businesses with assistance in connecting to high speed Internet service. The City will continue work on a formal open trench policy and is pursuing grants to fund the construction of lateral fiber connections to Lit San Leandro and other major trunk lines.

Tellus Venture Associates has advised the City of San Leandro throughout its broadband planning process. In addition to developing the commercial broadband strategy adopted last night, Tellus Venture Associates represented the City in negotiating an agreement with Pat Kennedy, a local entrepreneur, for the construction of an 11-mile dark fiber route through the City’s commercial and industrial areas, leading to the launch of Lit San Leandro.

Download the City of San Leandro’s commercial broadband strategic plan

Download the City staff report and action items for the 17 September 2012 city council meeting

San Leandro beats Google’s Kansas City broadband speeds

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Press release from the City of San Leandro:

San Leandro, Not Google, Is Writing The Next Chapter Of The Internet


Source: Lit San Leandro

“As Google attempts to grab the headlines with its announcement tomorrow of a fiber initiative for Kansas City that will offer users connection speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second, Mayor Stephen Cassidy of San Leandro announced that San Leandro is staking its claim as the fastest city in the nation. San Leandro’s fiber loop, known as Lit San Leandro, became operational earlier this year, offering connection speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second. This is 2,000 times faster than the average U.S. connection and ten times faster than the Google fiber network planned for Kansas City. Moreover, the network will soon support ramping up the connectivity to 100 gigabits per second for businesses needing an even greater connection.”

Less than a year after the City Council approved the project, Lit San Leandro is delivering on its promise of providing fast, fiber optic broadband connections to local businesses.

More information about the partnership with Lit San Leandro is available here. Tellus Venture Associates assisted the City in negotiating and implementing the agreement with Lit San Leandro, and is currently completing a strategic commercial broadband plan for consideration by the city council.

San Leandro joins elite group of dark fiber cities

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Source: Lit San Leandro

Lit San Leandro is putting fiber in the ground. A launch party attracted about a hundred out-of-town development prospects and local business people who heard about the project’s big picture benefits and the specific real estate opportunities it creates. The Hayward Daily Review and San Leandro Patch have good articles on the event. Patrick Kennedy’s Lit San Leandro blog also has good updates and pictures.
Speakers at the event included Sean Tario, the CEO of Open Spectrum Inc., a data center consultancy, Jeremy Neuner, the founder of NextSpace and Justin Reilly, a partner at Cassidy Turley commercial real estate.
This makes three Bay Area cities with municipal dark fiber networks: Palo Alto, Santa Clara and San Leandro. Palo Alto’s is a 41 mile network with about 60 primary customers, and many more secondary users buying lit service from the primaries. Santa Clara has 57 miles of dark fiber, a couple dozen primary customers (the biggest group being major data centers) and many more secondary users.


Lit San Leandro is a private venture with full City backing to build an 11-mile dark fiber loop through commercial and industrial districts. The City is contributing conduit access for 99%-plus of the route. Patrick Kennedy, a local entrepreneur and owner of OSI Soft, a major local software company, is installing the fiber and will run the system on a cooperative basis.

An interconnect to BART’s fiber network is already operational, and several other metro and long haul fiber networks either cross or are within easy reach of the Lit San Leandro system. Low cost, high capacity connections to Tier 1 Internet facilities combined with a large inventory of industrial and commercial properties is expected to attract data centers and other high technology, broadband-intensive businesses.

Tellus Venture Associates advised the City of San Leandro on the project and handled contract negotiations with OSI Soft. The City of Palo Alto is also one of our clients. More information on Lit San Leandro (including contracts), Palo Alto and others is here.