When we interviewed folks from Lit San Leandro and San Leandro Dark Fiber for episode 47 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast, the partnership between the local companies and the city was just getting started. Now the city is ready to expand their fiber optic infrastructure. After considering recommendations offered by a consulting firm on the best approach on building out their network to meet their goals, community leaders adopted a fiber master plan in September.
Local companies Lit San Leandro and San Leandro Dark Fiber collaborate with the city by using publicly owned conduit. Lit San Leandro owns and operates the switch and routing facilities that light up the fiber owned by San Leandro Dark Fiber.
The existing network connects more than 3,000 businesses within the 2 million square feet of building space that connect to the network. Schools within the San Leandro School District, nonprofits, churches, and other community anchor institutions all use the fiber network. Municipal facilities also connect to the network.
San Leandro has also made public Wi-Fi available in the downtown core and at city facilities. They’re in the process of expanding the service to several city parks and in more of the downtown.
Over the past five years, San Leandro has experienced rapid growth. The 10 gig fiber network has contributed to the city’s reputation as a tech hub, which has attracted both industry and residents. In order to stay ahead of the curve, community leaders consider it time to expand the network with smart city applications in mind. San Leandro has already implemented some smart city technologies, but with an expanded fiber infrastructure, they will be able to use the technology all over town and continue to boost economic development.
In 2017, the City Council hired a consultant to consider, among other questions, how best to expand and use its existing fiber assets, how to fund any expansion, and to offer recommendations on monetizing the network. As part of their smart city initiative, they wanted consultants to consider issues such as digital inclusion, buildings and energy, mobility, and fiber management.
As part of the plan, consultants reached out to both businesses and residents and found that, while there was coverage in San Leandro, subscribers were not pleased with their options. Businesses can obtain fiber optic connectivity from AT&T, but the cost is prohibitive. Likewise, Comcast offers a higher speed option, but it’s also expensive.
Residents faced similar problems. Most considered their Internet access too expensive for the value they received, and 67 percent expressed that they would subscribe to a publicly owned option of 100 Megabits per second (Mbps) or more at an average price point of $50 - $100 per month.
As consultants developed their recommendations to address how to expand the network, they considered how best to supplement Lit San Leandro services, expand areas that don’t yet have Lit San Leandro, and bring quick revenue to the city to create funding for continued future expansion.
Benefits of A Master Plan
This past summer Oxnard, California, chose a consultant to draft a Master Plan as they work to implement their long-term vision for the community. In San Leandro, where the city has already completed what can be considered a phase 1 toward their vision for a completely connected city that takes advantage of their fiber, their Fiber Master Plan will help them approach their next phase with flexibility while they set goals along the way.
To celebrate their community, civic engagement, and the decision to fully adopt a smart city approach for all, San Leandro observed “Resilient San Leandro Week” October 6 - 13. They held a series of events aimed at getting people involved, celebrating that involvement, and sharing information about the new possibilities the smart city technology will offer.
In an announcement about the Fiber Optic Master Plan, the Mayor wrote:
“We are committed to leveraging public and private assets through the use of Smart City technologies to make our community better for everyone here in San Leandro.”