Davis: Council Approves Fiber-Optic Network Deal With Astound Broadband

By Edward Booth Enterprise correspondent

The Davis City Council voted on Tuesday to lease city conduit to Astound Broadband LLC in exchange for fiber-optic services.

The agreement, set to last for 30 years, requires Astound — also known as Wave Broadband — to bring fiber-optic cable into the city and provide a high-speed network in Davis using existing city conduit. Astound will also expand the network to Yolo County buildings, specific city buildings and well/pump sites, and a connection to UC Davis.

Astound will be responsible for maintaining the network while the city retains control of the conduit. The estimated cost of building the network runs to about $1.4 to $1.5 million, according to a staff report.

Continue reading HERE

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Nevada County Supervisors Approves Last-mile Broadband Grant

YubaNet has some details:

At Tuesday’s July 23rd Board of Supervisors meeting, the Board unanimously approved a contract with the Sierra Business Council (SBC) for the administration of the Last-Mile Broadband Grant program, a grant for the development and expansion of Broadband in Nevada County. The grant will be funded by what the County receives for transient occupancy tax (TOT), a tourism-related tax charged to travelers when they rent accommodations for less than 30 days.

[ . . . ]

“The $225,000 Last-Mile Broadband Grant is a pilot program to leverage County funds to support the development of Last-Mile Broadband infrastructure in the unincorporated areas of the County to promote economic development. Last-Mile refers to connecting the enduser or customer’s home or business to a local network provider. The development of Last-Mile transmission networks is the most cost prohibitive component of broadband expansion in Nevada County.

[ . . . ]

It is a 2019 Board Priority to support job-enhancing economic development with an emphasis on creating infrastructure and community partnerships with organizations such as SBC. During the meeting, the Board approved a total of $250,000 investment into economic development and broadband. Of that funding, $25,000 going towards SBC’s administration of the pilot grant program and $225,000 that will be available for the grant.

The full report is HERE.
It will be interesting to see how the Sierra Business Council leverages this one time grant of $225,000. The last mile is like apple pie, as everyone supports it. However, fiber to the home is bloody expensive, like Google and Verizon found out and shut down their fiber to the home programs as too costly.

Fiber to the home is expensive costing between $1200 to $1500 per household, excluding any electronics needed to make the connection. That is the cost per connection when the fiber is in the street, in rural neighborhoods, the driveways can be quarter of a mile long. The primary cost component is labor to dig the trenches and lay the fiber. Or, hang the fiber on existing poles, which introduces another cost, rent for the use the poles which belong to other companies.

An alternative approach is to use wireless technology for the last mile connection. Wireless technology was used by the Beckville Network to tap the VAST middle mile network. The estimate network cost for ten homes was $10,000. That is $1,000 per connection. More here. As it turns out, the tall trees are limiting the expansion of the network to cover more of the neighborhood, requiring major network upgrades and more cost. The final cost per home is still unknown.

The Sierra Business Council was preparing a Broadband Strategic Plan for Nevada County to be published in August according to Peter Brown, the project developer. It will be interesting to see how symbiotic the Strategic Plan and the Nevada County Economic Development Grant are.

It is not clear how SBC should spend the broadband economic development grant, nor what the success criteria will be? How will citizens know the $225,000 resulted in economic development? How many last-mile connections, and at what cost? And, what wireless technology will best serve the community, as there are last-mile technologies in the market that cannot provide, the FCC minimum speeds of 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up.

Many of these questions could be answered when the Nevada County Broadband Strategic Plan is published. Stay Tuned.

City Leaders in Bozeman, Montana, Declare Broadband Essential Infrastructure

In mid-April, city leaders in Bozeman, Montana, passed Resolution No. 5031 to officially declare broadband essential infrastructure for the city. The declaration comports with the city’s long-term goal to bring high-quality connectivity throughout the community.

All the details at Community Networks

Bangor, Maine, passed a similar resolution last summer. As communities make such formal declarations, they show their commitments to improving local economies and encouraging their constituents to consider connectivity an integral part of daily life.

Brookings Institute Metro Policy Paper, Signs of Digital Distress, in less than two decades broadband access has become one of the foundations of the American economy, joining water, sewer, power and energy as essential infrastructure.

It is encouraging that more city leaders are coming to recognize how vital broadband is to daily life and economic commerce. Let us hope your city leaders get the message “real soon now.”

Can Redding Become the Nation’s Next ‘Gig City?’

The story is in the Redding Record Searchlight:

Whether Redding will forge ahead with a proposal to install an affordable, super-fast internet service in a portion of downtown is up for discussion by Redding City Council members on Tuesday.

Council members will be presented with the results of a feasibility and cost analysis study conducted last year about constructing a city-owned fiber optic internet service.

The Center for Economic Development at Chico State University produced the report, said Redding Vice Mayor Adam McElvain. He has promoted having Redding run its own ultra high-speed service as a way to attract more businesses to the city.

Under his proposal, Redding would become a traditional Internet Service Provider (ISP) and install the fiber infrastructure. “We’d be like Charter Communications or AT&T,” he said during a recent interview.

That would allow the city to “create a marketplace” where any ISP could offer bandwidth on the city’s system, he said.

“It’s kind of like when the city gives somebody a sewer. You get a sewer connection or you get a water connection. This way, you get a fiber connection. Then you can get on and sign up with any number of different services from the private sector for your bandwidth,” McElvain said.

Continue reading HERE.

The challenge will be overcoming the opposition of the big telecommunication companies who do not like competition. HERE is an example of how the telecommunication companies stifled the development of a community network in North Carolina.  Check out this video.

 

A Neighborhood Broadband Initiative

by Russ Steele

Vast Networks, a middle-mile and last mile fiber infrastructure provider based in Fresno, CA, provides commercial fiber network services through the heart of the western Sierra Nevada foothills from Jamestown in Tuolumne County to Grass Valley and Nevada City in Nevada County. The Vast fiber network was funded through federal ARRA and state CASF grants in 2010. It is now complete and is supply high-speed Internet services on its route. However, this post is about a connection in Nevada County.

Nevada County High Speed Internet

It is hard to see on the map, but the fiber network goes down Newtown Road. I just learned that a neighborhood of seven families recently bought a connection to this commercial network. They formed a non-profit corporation and contracted with Vast for a point of presence on the Vast Network. Now all seven home have high-speed internet for personal and business use. When the fiber came down their road, they took the initiative to get connected. They did not wait for the Government to force the phone or cable company to bring them high-speed internet. We need more if this kind of initiative!

Organized in 1995 CVIN LLC (dba Vast Networks) is comprised of affiliates of independent telephone companies located in Central and Northern California. They offer a full line of network services to telecommunications companies in the area. More detail on the Vast website HERE.

Note, Vast does not provide services to individual homeowners, they service business. Thus, the needed to form a non-profit corporation. More details when they come available. Watch for updates.

Utilities To FCC: Stay Off Our Spectrum

— The Utilities Technology Council issued a lengthy and fierce rebuke to Thursday’s FCC vote to proceed to a rulemaking on expanding the use of 6 GHz spectrum, which advocates like Public Knowledge celebrate for its potential use for unlicensed technology like Wi-Fi.

— Broadband broadside: “Although we understand the need for expanded wireless broadband, the risk of radio frequency interference to utilities’ mission-critical networks outweighs the potential benefits from unlicensed use of the band,” said Joy Ditto, who leads the utility trade group. “We are greatly concerned that the proposed rulemaking as drafted would not sufficiently mitigate potential interference to utility systems from these new unlicensed operations.” She argues “there are other spectrum bands more suitable to achieve the Commission’s goals.”