Mayor Gregory Scharff
On Next Century Cities: Palo Alto is a unique hub for technological innovation and is widely known as a premier startup center. Many tech giants got their start in Palo Alto – Facebook, Google, and Hewlett Packard, to name a few. In the 1990s, the City of Palo Alto made an investment in fiber-optics, which has proven to be a significant factor in the City’s economic growth and health. The City’s principles and Next Century Cities’ principles for broadband expansion are closely aligned, and focus on the importance of leveraging gigabit-speed Internet to attract new businesses and create jobs, improve health care and education, and connect residents to new opportunities.
What Palo Alto is working on: The City of Palo Alto’s 49-mile Dark Fiber Optic Backbone Network was conceived in the mid-1990s. The City’s strategy was to build a dark fiber ring capable of supporting multiple network developers and/or telecommunication service providers. The fiber network also supports the City’s communication needs and critical municipal services, including electric, gas, water, and wastewater utility services provided by City of Palo Alto Utilities.
The City licenses “dark fiber” for commercial purposes and provides service connections to more than 100 customers, including several value-added “resellers” that deliver a variety of telecommunication services. The network is also connected to the public schools in Palo Alto.
The City has evaluated various business models to expand the City’s fiber network for citywide use. With the escalating interest in deploying gigabit-speed networks, the City intends to explore public-private partnership opportunities to build a fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) network capable of providing gigabit-speed broadband and other services for businesses and residents. To that end, the City has developed a Fiber-to-the-Premises Master Plan and Wireless network Plan to guide future investment in its fiber optic asset.