Beverly Hills may be known for mansions and upscale shopping, but within a few years, it will also be known for fast, affordable, reliable connectivity. The city is investing in a citywide Fiber-to-the-Premise (FTTP) network for all homes and businesses, including apartments and condos, inside the city.
"90210" Wants Something Better
The city (pop. 35,000) is a little less than six square miles and they receive electricity from Southern California Edison (SCE). AT&T and Spectrum (formerly Time Warner Cable) provide Internet access throughout the community but a 2014 survey as part of the city’s feasibility study indicated that 65 percent of respondents would “definitely or probably” switch to services from the city, if the services were offered. As part of the survey, 25 percent of respondents also want video and voice bundles; 86 percent feel using the Internet at home is important.
While incumbents offer fiber connectivity in commercial areas of Beverly Hills, local businesses report that rates are expensive and they must pay for the cost of construction, which is also a big expense. At a recent City Council meeting when the Council approved funding for the project, the Mayor and Members expressed the need to be an economically competitive city. With Santa Monica, Culver City and Burbank nearby (all communities with municipal networks), Beverly Hills wants to be able to attract businesses looking to relocate or hold on to the businesses that need affordable and reliable gigabit connections.
Nuts And Bolts To Networking
The city owns existing fiber-optic infrastructure and plans to integrate its current resources into the new deployment. They’ll be adding about 100 miles of additional fiber to connect premises - including households, businesses, and schools - with both underground and aerial connections. In addition to existing streetlight conduit, Beverly Hills will add conduit for the project where necessary. SCE poles run through many of the city’s alleys and the community has been working on a pole attachment agreement so fiber-optic cable can hang from approximately 1,900 SCE poles. About 60 percent of the city’s parcels can be connected via underground connections. Construction will happen in phases and will likely start in the southeast part of the city; properties will be connected as construction in their area is completed.
Beverly Hills has firmly established a goal to offer 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) connectivity to residential subscribers for $50 per month. The city intends to offer the service to both single-family homes and multi-dwelling units (MDUs). Commercial tiers have yet to be determined, but will be offered in a variety of tiers.
Recently, communities investing in Internet infrastructure have chosen to bypass video as part of services offered, but Beverly Hills feels they need to be able to provide both voice and video to meet certain financial targets.
Paying For The Network
Beverly Hills will spend $19 million to deploy its network and has already approved vendors for the first phase, which includes construction, management, and equipment. They’ll use $10 million from the General Fund, which was already earmarked for the FTTP project in addition to internal loans from the city’s Information Technology funds and other city resources. Planners expect the network to run a positive cash flow in the fifth year and estimate it will pay for itself in 16 years.
Spreading the Word
In a town known for its links to show business, it’s not surprise that the city has created media to spread the word about the project. In addition to fact sheets, Beverly Hills has created a couple of videos that describe why the project will benefit the community and what it will offer.