Partnership of public and private interests floated for comprehensive fiber plan on California's central coast

15 August 2013 by Steve Blum
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Fiber for the Coast backer Bud Colligan.

Two entrepreneurs, Bud Colligan and Larry Samuels, have published a plan for improving broadband access in Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties. The objective is to…

…be a foundation for an economic renaissance for all citizens of the Monterey Bay region. It can help create clean technology jobs, reduce out of region commuting and in region traffic, strengthen the tax base, and improve the educational and health care systems, all the while balancing the economic concerns with the longstanding ethos of environmental stewardship that characterizes the Monterey Bay region.

The first phase of the plan would see construction of a “publicly controlled” fiber backbone network from Santa Cruz to Soledad, going through Watsonville and extending to Salinas and Monterey as well. As they acknowledge, it’s similar in many respects to the project proposed by Sunesys for a grant from the California Advanced Services Fund. A second line would connect Hollister and San Juan Bautista.

The second phase would include municipal fiber loops or trunk routes to most of the communities between Santa Cruz and Soledad, as well as Hollister. Phase three would extend the network to the south, to King City and Tres Pinos, north into the San Lorenzo Valley and west from San Juan Bautista through Aromas, towards Watsonville.

A companion paper does an excellent job of summing up what’s known about existing broadband infrastructure in the three county region.

The big question, of course, is how to pay for it. The plan doesn’t get into specifics, but gives a couple of hints. First, it talks about the advantages of using public funds and resources, and points to “an intergovernmental consortium such as the UC2B project between the University of Illinois and the cities of Champaign and Urbana”.

Second, it leaves the door open for private investment. Samuels is the principal author of the plan and has a long resume with pioneering Silicon Valley companies. Colligan is CEO of South Swell Ventures and former CEO of Macromedia. They have the credibility and resources to bring private capital to the table.