Why traffic signals are lavishly lit but muni IT networks are frugal with fiber

30 November 2020 by Steve Blum
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Traffic lights

The classic make versus buy question asks whether it’s cheaper or otherwise more advantageous for a company to manufacture a product or create a service, or to buy it from an outside source. When municipal fiber is involved, the same metrics and equation apply, but the answers are sometimes surprising.

If a city wants to use fiber to connect facilities or for traffic management, make and buy are completely different scenarios. Public agencies have a tendency to favor solutions that are light on ongoing operating costs, particularly given the uncertainty cities in California face regarding revenue and the uncontrolled long term growth of contractual obligations such as employee pensions and health care.… More

Salinas City Council approves contract to build municipal fiber network

30 October 2019 by Steve Blum
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Salinas fiber

A contract to build the first phase of a municipal dark fiber network was approved by the Salinas City Council earlier this month. This initial leg is a mile and a half long, and will run west along Alisal Street, a main thoroughfare through the downtown business district, beginning at the new Salinas Police station that’s under construction on the east side of downtown and ending at Central Park on the west side. A lateral will also connect City Hall to the network.… More

Study spots “third wave” of community broadband enthusiasm, but no swell of cash

21 October 2019 by Steve Blum
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A “third wave” of community broadband initiatives is developing in the United States, but before it’s surfable, state and federal policy changes are needed. That’s the conclusion of a paper written by Sharon Strover, Martin Riedl and Selena Dickey, of the University of Texas at Austin.

They identify barriers deliberately created by lobbyists working for major incumbents and their capture of policy making machinery – such as the Federal Communication Commission’s industry-dominated broadband deployment advisory committee which offered legislative recommendations that would “eliminate municipal broadband”.… More

Tacoma moves from courtship to consumation of deal to sell muni broadband system. Maybe

17 June 2019 by Steve Blum
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Good to be the king

The Tacoma city council unanimously approved a plan to lease its municipal cable system, called Click, to a relatively small local Internet service provider. After years of study and negotiation, the choice came down to turning over the struggling system to one of two locally based companies: Wave Broadband, which has a growing footprint of cable and telecoms operations in California, Oregon and Washington, and Rainier Connect, which operates primarily as a reseller in the Tacoma area.… More

Tacoma weighs risk and reward with list of muni broadband suitors down to two

15 March 2019 by Steve Blum
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The City of Tacoma has narrowed the list of possible buyers of its municipal cable system – aka Click – down to two local companies, Wave Broadband and Rainier Connect. A year ago, the city issued a request for information and qualifications and received responses from five companies. Only two initially met the city’s specifications – Wave and Yomura Fiber – but subsequent talks convinced Rainier to take on more risk, and led to Yomura’s exit, due to ownership concerns.… More

Newsom’s budget plan lowers barriers to public broadband financing

13 January 2019 by Steve Blum
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Following up on one of the items in his campaign manifesto, California’s new governor, Gavin Newsom, might make it easier to finance municipal broadband projects. One of the many, many ideas offered in his maiden budget proposal is to make it easier to form enhanced infrastructure financing districts by eliminating requirements for voter approval of bond issues…

Various economic development tools have been introduced following the dissolution of Redevelopment Agencies (RDAs), including Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts (EIFDs).


New year but old questions for technology and telecoms policymakers

1 January 2019 by Steve Blum
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Five major broadband issues will top the public policy charts in California and at the federal level in 2019. In no particular order…


Lobbyists ask FCC to hit cities with another taxpayer funded broadband mugging

16 December 2018 by Steve Blum
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The ravaging horde of (largely) telco and cable lobbyists known as the Federal Communications Commission’s broadband deployment advisory committee (BDAC) has drafted its latest letter to Santa advice to FCC chair Ajit Pai.

Not surprisingly, it thinks that Charter Communications, Comcast, AT&T and other monopoly model broadband service providers aren’t getting enough love from local governments. Love, in this case, meaning give us everything you have, then go out and get us more.

If a city owns dark fiber, then it should be required to hand it over to “any private sector communications provider” on demand, and only be allowed to keep enough for its “reasonably anticipated 50-year fiber needs”.… More

California’s next governor talks the broadband talk, but will he walk the walk?

9 November 2018 by Steve Blum
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California governor-elect Gavin Newsom has a broadband development track record of sorts. Whether that will translate into sound telecoms infrastructure policy remains to be seen.

When he was mayor of San Francisco, Newsom made a big splash with a deal with Google and Earthlink to blanket the city with WiFi, with free service playing a prominent role in a difficult to understand business plan. That was back during the great municipal WiFi bubble of the mid–2000s.… More

California’s new muni broadband law establishes rights, and net neutrality responsibility

3 October 2018 by Steve Blum
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California governor Jerry Brown actually signed two network neutrality bills into law on Sunday. The Big Kahuna was senate bill 822, which establishes net neutrality rules for Internet service providers doing business in California. But alongside it was assembly bill 1999, which, among things, requires publicly owned broadband systems to abide by net neutrality principles, whether or not their private competitors have to.

It’s a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it’s good thing for muni broadband systems to operate on a net neutral basis, both from a public policy and a customer service perspective.… More