Sustainability a Key Issue for Public-Private Fiber Networks

Seattle’s effort to build a high-speed Internet access network serving 12 neighborhoods, in cooperation with Gigabit Squared, has been unable to raise financing for the venture, illustrating some of the tensions and issues related to such joint ventures.

Outgoing Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn says he’s worried about Gigabit Squared’s plans, as a result.

That might be an occupational hazard for ambitious new fiber network projects, as envisioned by Los Angeles, for example.

The Los Angeles City Council has been looking at ways to provide a metro Wi-Fi network providing free service to residents, using private investment sources.

That might require investment of $3 billion to $5 billion, and one might reasonably suggest that amount cannot be raised, given the prospects of competing with AT&T, Time Warner, Verizon, Cox, and Charter Communications, all of which offer triple play services in some parts of the city.

In addition to seeking to foster creation of a new facilities-based fiber to the home reaching every home and business in Los Angeles, the plan also envisions wholesale access requirements as well.

That would strike many observers as an unrealistic set of expectations.

The network would be required to offer free access at rates between 2 Mbps and 5 Mbps, but would be allowed to offer paid service at speeds up to a gigabit per second.

Sustainability is an issue for virtually all of the proposed joint venture networks between municipalities and private service providers.
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