New dark fiber networks may soon light up Oakland

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.