Salinas pursues fast broadband to build ag tech corridor

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With big and small agricultural companies expanding in downtown Salinas and the southeast area of the city earmarked as an Ag Tech Corridor, the need for better broadband infrastructure is becoming critical. Yesterday, the Salinas City Council voted to ask for proposals from potential private sector partners who are interested in using city assets to build out high capacity networks.

Tellus Venture Associates recently completed a study for the City of Salinas that evaluated existing infrastructure and examined options for improving it. Key findings of the study – which formed the basis for the council’s decision – include…

  • Generally broadband infrastructure in the City of Salinas is average, as compared to California as a whole, and above average compared to other communities in Monterey County. AT&T and Comcast offer broadband service to nearly all homes and businesses in Salinas, on generally the same terms and at the same service level as elsewhere in California. Broadband providers that specialize in serving business customers are also present in Salinas, although not on a widespread basis.
  • Despite this focus, data provided by AT&T and Comcast to the California Public Utilities Commission indicates that the underlying broadband infrastructure in commercial and industrial areas of Salinas, and in the southeast area in particular, is substandard.
  • Salinas is served by several fiber optic routes that provide connections to major Internet exchanges in the San Francisco Bay Area and southern California, and, in some cases, are capable of providing local service directly to locations within the city.
  • The City of Salinas owns approximately 16,000 feet of conduit that is available to support construction of additional fiber optic networks, and has plans to build 108,000 feet of additional conduit in the next few years.

The next step is for the City of Salinas to issue a request for proposals from interested and qualified companies for using the existing and planned fiber lines traversing the city and city-owned conduit and other resources to build out broadband infrastructure in the downtown and Ag Tech Corridor areas. The council approved a draft RFP, and the final version should be released soon. More on that later.

City of Salinas preliminary broadband plan
Draft request for proposal
Staff report on Salinas commercial broadband infrastructure, 15 December 2015