Competition will make or, likely, break Pacific Grove muni FTTH business model

The business case for a muni fiber-to-the-home play is the number one worry as the Pacific Grove city council considers whether to pay SiFi Networks about a million dollars a year for the next 30 years to build and operate a system.

At its meeting on Wednesday evening, the council heard a presentation from Lee Afflerbach, principal engineer with CTC Consulting, who was asked to evaluate the technology. The questions afterward, though, were all about the business model: would the system make enough money to pay the lease, or would taxpayers be on the hook?… More

Muni FTTH pitch in Pacific Grove goes from no cost, no risk to pay us $1 million a year

Bawtree-Jobson in Pacific Grove yesterday.

A fiber to the home plan for the Monterey Peninsula city of Pacific Grove has transformed from a commercial business venture into an appeal for public money. SiFi Networks, a British company with a corporate heritage of real estate development, began last year by putting a simple proposition in front of several Californian cities: give us unlimited access to your streets, sidewalks and, yes, sewers and we’ll build fiber to every home and business in town.… More

Mayors like and loath FCC broadband rules

25 June 2015 by Steve Blum
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By David Ball (Original work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Mayors in U.S. cities want the federal government’s help to maintain their cities’ authority to build and operate municipal broadband systems (h/t to the Baller-Herbst list for the pointer). At least, the U.S. conference of mayors does, voting to approve a resolution that calls out Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler’s move to preempt state-imposed restrictions on municipal broadband systems and urges congress and the president to follow his lead

Now, therefore, be it resolved, that the United States Conference of Mayors applauds the FCC, under the leadership of Chairman Tom Wheeler, for preempting state barriers to municipal broadband service, which have served as a significant limitation to competition in the provision of Internet access; and

Be it further resolved, that The United States Conference of Mayors encourages Congress and the Administration to pursue all legislative and regulatory avenues to allow cities and communities maximum flexibility in constructing their own broadband networks.


CPUC expands broadband subsidy eligibility, toughens requirements

It got a little harder to clear the bar today.

Local governments and independent Internet service providers can apply for broadband infrastructure construction subsidies from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF), under new rules approved this morning by the California Public Utilities Commission.

There are pluses and minuses in the decision. On the whole, the commission is requiring these newly eligible application to meet requirements that are very similar to those imposed on regulated telephone companies, but without granting the same operational privileges – pole attachment and interconnection rights, for example.… More

FCC chair's muni shout out is just a first step on a hard road

Unmistakably, if not perfectly, clear.

FCC chairmanTom Wheeler stirred up a lot of excitement yesterday when he floated the idea of encouraging municipal broadband as a way of increasing telecommunications market competition…

The Commission will look for opportunities to enhance Internet access competition. One obvious candidate for close examination was raised…namely legal restrictions on the ability of cities and towns to offer broadband services to consumers in their communities.

He’s absolutely right that cities and other public agencies can create competition for incumbent telecommunications providers.… More

Private sector rules applied to municipal broadband subsidies in California

An entity that is not a telephone corporation.

Local governments will have to meet the same requirements as independent, private sector Internet service providers in order to qualify for broadband infrastructure subsidies from the California Public Utilities Commission. That’s the implication of a ruling issued by CPUC president Michael Peevey last week. Those requirements could include performance bonds and penalties for failing to meet conditions the commission might put on subsidised projects or for not complying with its regulations.… More

Watsonville growing economy and cash with muni dark fiber

“We want to be able to service other business”, said Bob Berry, public works project manager for the City of Watsonville. “We think we want to turn this into an enterprise fund”.

The city is installing dark fiber between key public buildings and, incidentally, through core business areas of Watsonville. The project was launched after Charter Communications raised the price it was charging for similar connections from free to $150,000 a year, a move made possible by its shift from local to statewide cable franchising.… More

Muni WiFi still has utility, and at least two utilities

Originally, it was just the poles in Chaska that had a retro look.

The first generation of municipal wireless providers is mostly gone, as fiber takes precedence and mobile networks grow. One of the survivors deserves particular mention: the City of Chaska, Minnesota.

I visited Chaska several times in the course of building and running a similar WiFi-based broadband utility in Lompoc, California. Chaska’s project led ours by a few months and the lessons learned there saved us time, money and a lot of trouble.… More

Gigabit Seattle raising FTTH attention but not cash

Adding lift to a trial balloon.

The Gigabit Seattle team is trying to tap into Google Fiber’s buzz by releasing a fiber-to-the-home pricing plan that sounds a lot like what’s on offer in Kansas City, albeit for a few dollars more and with a little less freebie time. Otherwise, there’s been precious little in the way of specific information about the project since it was announced six months ago.

What I wrote then is true today: Gigabit Seattle’s financial vehicle is still a concept car.… More

Real world planning brings real free WiFi to Santa Clara

Free WiFi coverage in most of Santa Clara.

It’s a beautiful thing when the pieces fall into place and a city can maximize the value of past investments and decisions. Particularly when it means better and cheaper broadband service.

Santa Clara is rolling out an elegant solution for universal Internet access. The city owns and operates its own electric utility, and put in a fiber optic network to support it. The fiber’s reach is limited – it’s definitely not FTTH scale – but it’s enough to make broadband connectivity relatively easy throughout the city and keep the cost of Internet bandwidth down.… More