Thursday, March 16, 2006

Kewl California stuff

Now in a session on municipal networks, which seems extraordinarily poorly attended, despite the clear sense of concern here in the US over freedom of access. James Hettrick from Loma Linda has been running us through a fascinating presentation on how the city achieved FTTH in new build and existing properties as part of an open-access network project. With new build it put into place an ordinance requiring housing developers to run fiber to new homes according to city specifications, and then deed the infrastructure back to the city. In his words, it is no different from any other utility infrastructure from the perspective of the developer. He put up a network map showing a completed fiber ring, which cost the city $2m to build, but within which lies $8m in deeded assets put in place by the developers - so the city has already captured value in the investment even before whatever economic benefits may be realised (and presumably the resale value of the homes has also been enhanced). Loma Linda has also put Firetide mesh in public spaces. One other initiative I found interesting was the concept of local shared business centers for home-based and mobile workers who need a virtual office to meet or call clients free from the stresses and distractions of domestic life. This is a concept already available in urban business centers, but is only really possible in a suburban environment with fiber in the equation. On the question of why local government should be involved in broadband access provision, his answer was very succinct: Loma Linda's goal is to promote private enterprise, but genuinely local private enterprise, rather than the interests of a duopoly, the proceeds of which are largely taken out of the community. Amen.

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