Will San Francisco realise its dream of a city-wide Gigabit network?

© Flickr/cc-licence/Gunther Hagleitner

San Francisco performed an impartial and thorough review of  different options to deliver broadband service throughout the city and determined open-access is the least riskiest and best way to offer broadband service in the city. This is just an analysis with recommendation. The city council will ultimately determine which direction to go, and as we know it may not always be the most prudent for citizens.

  • New report looks at financing models for a municipal Gigabit network
  • 12% of the city’s population does not have Internet access at home
  • Public and private development and ownership investigated
  • Network build-out costs range from $393m to $867m

Given its proximity to Silicon Valley, and the large numbers of wealthy tech founders who have managed to push up local housing prices to astronomical heights, you would think that San Francisco would be a shining beacon in the world of high-speed broadband and connected cities. Think again. Around 12 per cent of the population of San Francisco do not have any Internet access at home, and an additional 6 per cent only have access to dial-up speed Internet. But things may be about to change; and we don’t mean the selective, cherry-picked approach from Google Fiber. City Supervisor Mark Farrell had asked the Budget and Legislative Analyst’s Office for a financial analysis of a municipal fibre network to provide Internet access to all residential, commercial and industrial premises in San Francisco at speeds of a least 1Gbps, with the capacity to increase in the future as the definition of high speed or broadband changes. He wanted to evaluate three different approaches:

  1. public development and ownership
  2. private development and ownership
  3. public/private partnership development and ownership

Cost estimates were to include hard and soft costs related to construction, including permitting and environmental review, and the cost of operating and maintaining the network. Potential financing sources were to be identified for each option including the City issuing debt, state and federal grants, philanthropic contributions and various private sector funding options.  

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About Mark Milliman

Mark Milliman is a Principal Consultant at Inphotonics Research driving the adoption and assisting local governments to plan, build, operate, and lease access open-access municipal broadband networks. Additionally, he works with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to increase the value of their intellectual capital through the creation of strategic product plans and execution of innovative marketing strategies. With more than 22 years of experience in the telecommunications industry that began at AT&T Bell Laboratories, Mark has built fiber, cable, and wireless networks around the world to deliver voice, video, and data services. His thorough knowledge of all aspects of service delivery from content creation to the design, operation, and management of the network is utilized by carriers and equipment manufacturers. Mark conceived and developed one of the industry’s first multi-service provisioning platform and is multiple patent holder. He is active in the IEEE as a senior member. Mark received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

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