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New support for fiber to home

Original post made by Taylor S., Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 2, 2006

I was surprised and pleased to see the article in today's Weekly written by Larry Klein and Yoriko Kishimoto pushing for a strong municipal role in bringing two-way high speed Internet access to residents.

Web Link

Apparently the City Council will decide whether to move forward on this next week. I would like to urge residents to express their support for this concept, either on this forum or by communicating directly with council members.

Comments (11)

Posted by Bob Harrington
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 2, 2006 at 5:02 pm

FIVE COUNCILMEMBERS SUPPORT A PALO ALTO FIBER NETWORK: Encouragement and thanks should be extended to all five councilmembers who have supported the concept of a community-owned open fiber optic network available to all Palo Alto residences, businesses, schools and government offices. They are Yoriko Kishimoto, Larry Klein, Bern Beecham, John Barton and Peter Drekmeier.

LONE HOLDOUT LADORIS CORDELL: Councilmember LaDoris Cordell is a key advisor to the President of Stanford University. Ironically, Stanford was an early pioneer building and operating their own fiber optic network which offered fiber service to every dorm room. This made possible the innovative start-ups Yahoo and Google. So far, Stanford has made over $300 million from its early stage investments in those two start-ups alone. The payoffs can be large when you support intelligent innovation, like that which is alive and well in every Palo Alto neighborhood. Yet LaDoris, who has access to world-class fiber service everyday in her Stanford office, has been the lone nay sayer in recent Council votes, among other things feeling that the majority of Palo Altans were not being vocal enough in their support and that the City "can't afford it". With the Palo Alto Online poll currently running about 4 to 1 in support of Palo Alto Fiber and the Council asking for creative new business ideas from staff, my request is that LaDoris join her collegues in support of this vital community issue during the August 7 Council meeting where the fiber RFP is on the Consent Calendar, and become one of its biggest supporters from here on out.

Posted by David Lieberman
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 2, 2006 at 8:16 pm

This lunacy never goes away.

Ashland, OR is losing money and will soon begin tacking a surcharge on electricity to cover its shortfall. A mini-civil war has broken out. When residents were polled to see what service they would like to have eliminated, number one was the Ashland Fiber Network.

Provo Utah's iProvo network which is held up as the model for how to do it by the Palo Alto advocates is running deeply in the red. It has attracted half the predicted number of subscribers. The city is going to have to pay bond interest out of the general fund.

If you think Palo Alto is in bad shape now wait until we have this albatross. Goodbye, children's theater, goodbye, Junior Museum, goodbye upgraded libraries, goodbye, street repairs....

Posted by Noah
a resident of University South
on Aug 2, 2006 at 11:08 pm

Regarding the "lunacy", here are some stats:

Palo Alto has a population roughly 3x that of Ashland. Ashland and Provo each have rougly 5-6x the number of people living below the poverty line. Palo Alto has both per-capita and per-family incomes of between 2x and 3x greater than either of Ashland or Provo.

Aside from population size and wealth, how about industry?

From wikipedia, Ashland's primary economic activity is from tourism. The top 5 employers in Ashland in order are: A university, The Shakespeare festival, Public schools, and a Hospital. Not exactly high-tech central. Of companies listed for Provo, two are skin-care companies, two others are non high-tech, and only a single high-tech company is listed.

Palo Alto on the other hand is the recognized birthplace of Silicon Valley. We have dozens of Fortune-100 industry leading tech companies along with tens of thousands of high-tech workers here. We have a world class top university and likely over a hundred internet based startups. A recent thread on this very forum received almost 40+ postings of 100% positive support, along with many pledges for upwards of $1,000 to get connected.

Yes, there are details to be worked out. We should approach this in a way to minimize costs to the city with a fiscal goal of providing long term revenue to the city. We must also ensure that no one for-profit (non-neutral) entity gain control or an equity stake in this highly valued public infrastructure. The US is rapidly losing ground to other countries in terms of broadband rollout and speeds. I pledge my financial support and committment to use this highly valued utility in today's and the future's economy.

Posted by Michael Eager
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 3, 2006 at 12:32 am

If the RFP is on the consent calendar, that means that it most likely will be passed by the Council without debate. Even if it is removed, if there are five supporters, then it will pass by a majority vote. So I don't understand what is to be gained by attacking Councilmember Cordell and Stanford. Certainly that's not going to change her mind or vote.

My guess is that Cordell hasn't seen either convincing arguments about the value of a fiber network nor has she seen community support. Claims that a city-owned network will save subscribers 10% are less than compelling. A poll of fewer than three hundred people, self-selected, out a city of 60,000, doesn't seem persuasive.

A small group of people posting (repeatedly) on a thread is not a ground-swell of support for FTTH. Neither is a handfull of pledges of $1000 toward a multi-million dollar project.

As Noah says, there are details to be worked out. But at the moment, it seems that there is no real plan for FTTH in Palo Alto, only a hope that someone will respond to the RFP with something that is not too horrible. Lacking any plan, it seems that the discussion focuses on irrelevancies: how much money Stanford has earned from Yahoo and Palo Alto's glory as birthplace of Silicon Valley half a century ago. Both may be true, but neither speaks to the issue at hand.

I do hope that Kishimoto's dream comes true. But it seems less than realistic to expect that someone will invest $30M (with the city contributing $10M) to present Palo Alto with a "municipally owned open-access networking utility".

Posted by Matt
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 3, 2006 at 11:23 am

It is instructive that there isn't even a proper selection for those of us who live in the downtown, the instruction being the myopaea of the 'homeowner' class in this suburb. It is equally indicative that the proposed access is meant for homeowners--solely, and does not provide options for transients, renter, and other unsavoury characters.

It is surprising that with the absurd levels of wealth exposed on an ongoing basis in this not-quite-a-real-city, that such a proposal should suffer from these considerations. A wireless system would require infinitely smaller impact to existing infrastructure, would provide optional service to subscribers at any form of dwelling, and possibly add to the sense of progressive ideas that are the hallmark of a college-town with the courage to lead (albeit some 10 years after the technology was 'leading').

Posted by James
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 3, 2006 at 8:02 pm

In Hangzhou, a city near Shanghai in China, the ADSL is almost everywhere. It is connected to each 3-star hotel room, each old and new apartment and resident houses. Hangzhou city was determined to build a Heavenly-Silicon Valley with ambitious plan of digital network. This year, the IPTV was first tested in several small resident areas in Hangzhou and is planned to deployment.

In constrast, the Palo Altan seem less enthusiastic about something similar, or better. I am surprised. No wonder one of my friends in China joked to me the other day:"Except for that we have to do birth control,", she said, "what else you are better than we?"

Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 4, 2006 at 9:45 am

I don't doubt the technology, though I wonder if anyone on the city staff has a real understanding of it. But by the time the city gets around to actually building it, will there be some new technology that's better? Will it bring new business to the city? How much will it cost the city to build it and -- more important -- to support it? How many new employees will have to be hired? What will it cost to subscribe to the service? How many average citizens need it AND would be willing to pay for it? Has anyone done a business model/ROI -- using real data and not wishful thinking?

Posted by Chris Saari
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 5, 2006 at 10:04 am

The streets near my house are so potholed and uneven that I need to have my car aligned twice a year. This week Palo Alto citizens marched in the streets to protest the unprecedented crime wave that’s hit our city. Recently eighteen utility department employees left after it was discovered that some had been using city equipment during working hours to do private jobs in Menlo Park. We don’t have an obvious way to pay for either libraries or a new police station it is claimed that we need. Hotels, car dealerships and other tax-paying businesses are leaving the city in droves. Meanwhile, the city’s unions are looting the city’s treasury to pay for lavish health benefits and retirement plans while the city manager has the city pay his property taxes for him.

What are our elected council members doing to address these serious problems that call into question whether our city government can perform even its basic functions competently? Well, according to Yoriko Kishimoto and Larry Klein, they’re looking into wiring up the city with a “leading-edge” data network – on which, they say, Palo Alto’s quality of life depends. Maybe – in some alternative universe – that’s true. A data network might be a nice frill for the city to have, but I bet in the real world, most Palo Alto residents would settle for moderately well-maintained streets and sidewalks that they can use without being unduly fearful of being accosted by criminals with guns.

A city that can't keep the streets repaired, can't protect its residents from ordinary criminals, and can't supervise its ordinary utility department employees has no business trying to run an enterprise as complex as a fiber network. When will our 'leaders' understand that they have to take care of the boring quotidian aspects of municipal government before it makes sense to tackle "leading edge" projects like FTTH?

Posted by David Lieberman
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 7, 2006 at 6:29 pm

Well said, Chris Saari!

Please send your comments to the City Council

Posted by mark
a resident of another community
on Aug 17, 2006 at 2:13 pm

Since the project first started, the costs have dropped so much that it would be easy for a public utility to offer $120-140 one time hookup and $1 a month, 1 gigabit per sec to each household.

The industry always touts very expensive fiber to the home as the converged solution when at a fraction of the cost copper CAT 5E cable could be used to get neighbourhood groups of up to 200 subscribers on the network. Wireless AP's would of course integated with each city block's switched node. The neighbourhoods could then be aggregated on fiber.

I figure a cost of $20-$40 per subscriber( 100% penetration) for the wired/wireless network plus $100 a wired drop.

An ideal situation for a public owned utility company as they would get automatic meter reading and emergency access for a very low cost. The maintenance cost should be practically nothing

This would replace the city's cellular, telephone, internet, and basic cable TV and put the carriers out of business.

Posted by dfhk
a resident of Barron Park School
on Mar 30, 2008 at 1:13 am

eixKZh ,

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