Palmdale, California is considering a proposal from SiFi Networks to become a FiberCity. The project would see $600 million from the private infrastructure builder to construct 800 miles of fiber and lease it on an open access basis, as well as provide the infrastructure necessary for smart city applications and 5g.
In the city of Fullerton, California (pop. 140,000), privately owned infrastructure builder and operator SiFi Networks has turned on the first section of what will be a city-wide, open access Fiber-to-the-Home network. The project makes Fullerton SiFi’s first FiberCity — a privately built, financed, and operated open access network it plans to duplicate in more cities across the country in the future. When complete next fall, the Fullerton FiberCity network will pass every home and business in the city, with the company's subsidiary, SiFi Networks Operations, selling wholesaling capacity to as many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as want to enter the market.
A Different Approach
SiFi’s FiberCity model remains somewhat unique in the United States, and is much more common in Europe and Asia. CEO Ben Bawtree-Johnson attributes their success to cracking the economic code for private investment in open access information infrastructure, which has seen more attention in recent years as investors and fund managers have seen opportunities. “[O]ur vision really is to create as many last-mile fiber optic networks as we can across the USA in a long term sustainable fashion,” Bawtree-Jobson remarked on an episode of the podcast last fall. “[W]e're all about long term, dry, low yielding, risk mitigated investments, so everything we do is based around 30-year plus type investments.”
Fullerton, according to SiFi, was an ideal candidate for its first FiberCity because it applied to be one of the original candidates (though not chosen) for a Google’s fiber program, begun in 2010. The company sees it as sitting in the Goldilocks’ zone in terms of size and population. Construction started last November, and currently consists of around 600 miles of fiber all underground via microtrenching. Nokia serves as the main equipment partner on the project.
Turning on the Lights
The first residential customers...Read more
Brent Christensen, Chief Operating Officer of Christensen Communications, came into our Minneapolis office to sit down and have a chat with Christopher this week for podcast 346. Their interview comes a short time after Christopher and several other Institute for Local Self-Reliance staff took a tour of the Christensen Communications facilities.
Brent has an additional role as President and CEO of the Minnesota Telecom Alliance (MTA) a group that advances...Read more
When community leaders in Santa Cruz County, California, decided to take steps to spur economic development, they knew they needed to improve local connectivity. For episode 295 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast, Policy Analyst Patrick Mulhearn from County Supervisor Zach Friend’s office talks with Christopher this week about the steps they’ve taken and their plans.
Santa Cruz County is a blend of beach activity, relaxing natural destinations, and inland rural areas. Silicon Valley is nearby and people who work in the tech industry live in the city of Santa Cruz or the rural areas around it and commute to work. Unfortunately, national providers have not kept up with high quality connectivity throughout the county. As is often the case, the incumbent providers have concentrated their efforts on specific areas, leaving rural Santa Cruz County behind.
Patrick and Christopher discuss how the county took steps to accommodate the big ISPs and what happened next. They also talk about how some people in rural areas have taken steps to solve their problems despite the lack of action by incumbents and what county officials have in mind for the future.
Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.
On January 30th, the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee held a hearing to learn from experts about how to shrink the digital divide and expand Internet access. The committee invited Joanne Hovis, owner of CTC Technology and Energy, to testify.
Make Investment Attractive
Hovis also heads up the Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC) as CEO. She shared a plan that focused on creating an environment that will encourage infrastructure investment by the private and public sectors. The CLIC website shared the six main components of the plan:
Support public-private partnerships that ease the economic challenges of constructing rural and urban infrastructure;
Incent local efforts to build infrastructure — ones that private service providers can use — by making bonding and other financing strategies more feasible;
Target meaningful infrastructure capital support to rural and urban broadband deserts, not only to attract private capital but also to stimulate private efforts to gain or retain competitive advantage;
Empower local governments to pursue broadband solutions of all types, including use of public assets to attract and shape private investment patterns, so as to leverage taxpayer-funded property and create competitive dynamics that attract incumbent investment;
Require all entities that benefit from public subsidy to make enforceable commitments to build in areas that are historically unserved or underserved; and
Maximize the benefits of competition by requiring that all federal subsidy programs are offered on a competitive and neutral basis for bid by any qualified entity.
Hovis began her testimony by assessing our current approaches to shrinking the digital divide. She examined current belief in D.C. that local processes such as permitting and access hold up infrastructure investment and frankly told them that such a belief is incorrect.
From Hovis’s written testimony:
In reality, the fundamental reason we do not see comprehensive broadband deployment throughout the United States is that areas with high...
Earlier this legislative session, we followed legislation in Virginia, which would have negatively impacted municipalities’ ability to use their publicly owned infrastructure to improve connectivity. We’re now watching a bill in Missouri that’s been resurrected from legislation that died last year. Another state bill just appeared on our radar in Georgia that interferes with local community authority by prescribing stringent rules on permitting and applications.
The Wrong Direction
When our Christopher saw it, he said:
This is based on the false notion that cities are the barrier to better networks rather than recognizing the power of pole owners and existing attachers as a far more significant barrier.
The bill, HB 336 or the Broadband Strategy for All of Georgia Act, allows communities to be certified as “broadband ready,” which may allow providers that serve those communities eligible for state tax incentives. In order for a community to be certified as a “broadband ready community,” it must comply with a specific model ordinance, created by the state that dictates the process for reviewing applications for broadband projects.
The bill starts out all wrong, by defining broadband as 10 Megabits per second (Mbps) download by 1 Mbps upload. Clearly that indicates that its point of origin is the incumbent telephone companies who want to make it easier to provide their slow DSL, rather than encourage upgrades to the FCC definition of “broadband.” As a reminder, the federal government considers broadband to be 25 Mbps / 3 Mbps.
The process proposed in HB 336 assumes that local communities that are trying to protect their public spaces are the bad guys and any DSL or cable company who wants to insert their lines or equipment in public space is but a poor victim. The bill applies to any “public rights of way, infrastructure and poles, river and bridge crossings, or any other physical assets owned or controlled by the political subdivision.”
The Heavy Hand Of The State
HB 336 caps application...Read more
Duffy Newman: The reason the carriers are using this type of technology is because they're trying to improve coverage but they're also looking at capacity.
Lisa Gonzalez: This is episode 239 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. I'm Lisa Gonzalez. Last week, we talked to Lincoln, Nebraska, a community using its fiber and conduit resources to improve wireless service in the city, using small cell technology. In this episode, Christopher gets the perspective of an infrastructure company that works on small cell deployment with wireless carriers. Duffy Newman is the acquisitions manager and corporate development in strategy for Crown Castle. Chris and Duffy touch on the function of Crown Castle and Duffy offers more detail on how small cells work and the difference between the new small cell technology and the traditional mobile wireless systems.
Christopher Mitchell: Hey folks, this is Chris Mitchell, the most of Community Broadband Bits. I just wanted to ask you if you could do us a real big favor to help us spread this show around. That's to jump on iTunes or Stitcher, wherever you found this show, and to give us a rating. Give us a little review, particularly if you like it. If you don't like it so much, then maybe don't do that, but if you're enjoying the show, please give us a rating and help us to build the audience a bit. Thanks.
Lisa Gonzalez: Now, here's Christopher talking with Duffy Newman, acquisitions manager and corporate development and strategy for Crown Castle.
Christopher Mitchell: Welcome to another edition of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast. I'm Chris Mitchell at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Today, I'm speaking with Duffy Newman, the acquisitions manager and corporate development and strategy at Crown Castle. Welcome to the show, Duffy.
Duffy Newman: Thanks, Chris.
Christopher Mitchell: I'm very glad to have you on. This show is following one week after we've just talked a little bit about what Lincoln is doing with small cells. I'm excited that our audience has some sense of how one city's dealing with it but now, I think we're going to talk a little bit more about what small cells are and offer people a better explanation. I think the best place to start would be with what Crown Castle does. Can you tell...Read more
After last week's podcast on Lincoln and its small cell policy, we wanted to offer a longer discussion about small cell wireless technology and the policy around it. Crown Castle is a firm focused on enabling wireless solutions and Acquisitions Manager in Corporate Development Strategy Duffy Newman joins us for episode 239 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast.
We explore what small cells are and how important they are to the future of improved wireless access. These devices are usually connected by fiber and allow an existing wireless service to improve bandwidth and reliability. Duffy offers the example of Philadelphia during the Pope's visit as a particularly good example of small cells in action.
We also talk about local governments and the role they can play in enabling this technology and why it is important to have each node connected by fiber.
We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.
Thanks to Admiral Bob for the music. The song is Turbo Tornado (c) copyright 2016 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. Ft: Blue Wave Theory.
When we last spoke to people from Lincoln, Nebraska, about their innovative conduit program to improve Internet access, we focused on how they had done it - Conduits Lead to Competition, podcast 182. For this week and episode 228 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast, we focus more on the community benefits their approach has led to.
We are once again joined by David Young, Fiber Infrastructure and Right of Way Manager in the Public Works Department. We offer a shorter background about the history of the project before focusing on the franchise they developed with local ISP Allo. Allo is building citywide Fiber-to-the-Home and has agreed to provision 15 VLANs at every endpoint. We talk about what that means and implications for schools specifically.
We also touch on permitting issues for local governments and David explains his philosophy on how to speak to the community about potential projects in an engaging manner.
We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.
Thanks to mojo monkeys for the music, licensed using Creative Commons. The song is "Bodacious."
After our article earlier this month on US Internet’s problems obtaining permission to install conduit under Minneapolis Park Board boulevard property, several other articles appeared in local media.
TV station KARE 11 ran a piece on the issue and interviewed Julie Stenberg, who observed, "Technically it's park land, but people are not playing Frisbee, they're not picnicking here.” (Watch the video below.)
The Star Tribune also ran an article noting that people like Julie, who live adjacent to park owned boulevards, may never have the opportunity to take Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) service from the local provider. If US Internet wants to obtain a permit to bury conduit along the parkway in order to get to Julie's house - the only option available - they will have to shell out $27,000 in fees. People around the corner from Julie are already getting FTTH service from US Internet.
According to the Strib, Commissioners denied a permit for boulevard placement and for placement under Minnehaha Creek in South Minneapolis because it lacked the detail they required. The Park Bard is concerned about damage to trees during both conduit placement and any maintenance:
“We’d directional drill, and we’d be 12 to 14 feet under the creek bed,” [US Internet’s Vice President Travis] Carter said. “You will not see anything when we’re done. It’s just a pipe deep underground that nobody will see.”
US Internet has no access to Comcast and CenturyLink poles, so an underground network is its only option. Alleys are too tight to safely use the boring and maintenance equipment, especially in the winter, but the Park Board is not convinced, “It’s really important for USI to demonstrate that there’s no alternative,” [Assistant Park Superintendent Michael Schroeder] said.
Caught Behind A Boulevard And A Creek
Addresses south of Minneahaha Creek may not get access if the two parties do not resolve the problem. In order to reach thousands more homes and businesses they intend to pass, US Internet will need to place fiber under the creek in three...Read more