Monday marks another decision point for the Palo Alto City Council in its quest to link the city's residences and small businesses with state-of-the-art, two-way broadband cable, an effort that could also allow it to reclaim the lead as a municipal technopower.
The council decided in March to continue negotiations with top bidder 180 Connect Inc., a New York video-, voice- and data-transmission company. The next step, to be proposed Monday, is developing a business plan for the partnership, which includes a division of 180 Connect, a Swedish fiber-to-the-home company called PacketFront, the Royal Bank of Canada and the city.
Joe Saccio, Palo Alto's deputy director of administrative services, said the business plan is necessary to see if the groundbreaking venture is feasible. He said it should cost less than $100,000 and take 180 Connect about six months to complete.
At the same time, the city or a consultant will need to assess the assets the city can contribute to the deal, such as space on the existing dark-fiber ring or office space, Saccio said.
The effort has the strong support of Mayor Yoriko Kishimoto and Councilman Bern Beecham.
Kishimoto said she is enthusiastic about the plan because it would support and attract businesses, contribute to residents' quality of life and perhaps counter the concentration of the media by allowing most anyone to distribute video and other products.
Beecham said he hopes to promote competition, which he believes will benefit residents and businesses.
Comcast does not provide fiber-to-the-home to Palo Alto and has not announced plans to do so, Beecham said.
Money remains the major challenge to the endeavor. 180 Connect is going to search for investors and the city plans to continue exploring financing options, Saccio said.
"That's something we have yet to solve," he said.