Fiber: A big fat pipe all the way into your home

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By Sarah Phelan
If you’ve read the 196-page study of fiber-to-the-premise that was posted online by he City's Department of Telecommunications and InformationServices the same week that Mayor Gavin Newsom was whooping it up in Davos, Switzerland, you’ll know that the report concludes that municipal fiber-to-the-premises is the most visionary way for San Francisco to go. Oh, and that to really bridge the digital divide, he city should build a pilot fiber network in the San Francisco Enterprise Zone--a 12-square mile economic development area that includes Bay View, Hunter’s Point, South Bayshore, Chinatown, Mission District, Mission Bay, Potrero Hill, South of Market, Tenderloin and the Western Addition.

“FTTP is the holy grail of broadband, a fat pipe all the way into the home or business,” states the executive summary, “but in the near future is only available for a privileged few located in the limited areas of private-sector deployment.”

Noting that private sector networks aren’t meeting this growing demand for bandwidth and speed in an affordable manner, the report states that “in this context of private sector disinterest, municipal FTTP would rank San Francisco among the world’s most far-sighted cities—by creating an infrastructure asset with a lifetime of decades that is almost endlessly upgradeable and capable of supporting any number of public or private sector communications initiatives.”

According to the report, fiber allows “numerous competitors to quickly and inexpensively enter the San Francisco market and offer competing, differentiated broadband services and access,” facilitates “democratic and free market values,” “affordable access” “economic development” and enhances, “the City’s reputation for visionary and pioneering projects; promoting major development initiatives such as revitalization zones.”

The report also notes that fiber “provides a highly reliable, resilient backbone for existing and future wireless initiatives,” supports current and future public safety and government communications systems, saving the City enormous unending cost of leasing circuits from telephone companies, and provides a higher quality, higher capacity, more reliable, more secure transport for key city users such as law enforcement, fire, emergency management and public health.”

In other words, it’s the kind of system that would be a life saver following a major earthquake.

None of which means that we shouldn’t be doing wireless, just not the
flawed Google Earthlink deal
that Mayor Gavin Newsom is pushing.