On San Antonio: “High speed Internet service that is widely accessible and affordable connects individuals and communities to greater opportunities. But it also connects our nation to richer democratic possibilities by making broadband Internet inclusive to all of our citizens.”
On Next Century Cities: “Cities may be separate governmental entities defined by boundaries etched on maps. But we are connected by a national infrastructure. Essential to that infrastructure are high-speed broadcast networks. The exchange of ideas is a powerful stimulus to progress and Next Century Cities is a forum that will inspire creative collaborations.”
What San Antonio is working on: San Antonio Rising – An Historic City Moving at Broadband Speed
San Antonio has long been a gateway to cultural and commercial exchanges between cities, states, and nations. The King’s Highway or Camino Real first established by Spanish explorers in the 1690s connected Mexico City to San Antonio and later to communities in East Texas and beyond. This vital link between emerging countries was responsible for bringing missionaries that established five historic missions in San Antonio, including Mission Valero, better known as the Alamo. With the industrialization of cities, the historic King’s Highway gave way to railroads – the first to arrive in San Antonio in 1877 was the Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio Railroad connecting San Antonio to the Port of Galveston. In the following two decades San Antonio was connected to cities throughout the country with new railroad lines. The railroads moved people and raw materials that transformed the city.
With the advent of the automobile, highways became increasingly important for commerce.
Through the efforts of the Old Spanish Trail Association, headquartered in San Antonio, the Old Spanish Trail was completed in 1929 as a transcontinental highway connecting St. Augustine, Florida along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean to San Diego, California on the Pacific coast. San Antonio lies in the center of this east-west transnational corridor. Completed in 1971, Interstate Highway 35 is an equivalent north-south transnational corridor connecting San Antonio to cities along six mid-western states culminating in Duluth, Minnesota at the doorstep of Canada to the north, and to Laredo, Texas on the Mexican border to the south. Located at the crossroads of these major national highways, San Antonio has become the commercial gateway to Mexico and an important distribution point for products coming into the United States from Latin American countries.
With the rise of the digital age, San Antonio understands from its historic experience the significance of promoting and building the information highways of the future – broadband networks. Over the last decade, San Antonio has completed the deployment of a public safety radio system covering the greater San Antonio metropolitan area anchored by wireless towers and public safety facilities which are connected by an active SONET ring. In 2007, the City of San Antonio executed a memorandum of understanding with its municipally-owned electric utility, CPS Energy, to share dark fiber owned by the utility in the development of a joint highspeed communications wide area network referred to as COSANet. Over the last seven years, the City has used utility fiber to augment its public safety network which has been integrated into COSANet. By next year, the City expects to have 29 locations connected to COSANet.
In 2012, city officials called for expanding the benefits of the COSANet to other governmental entities in the community. In pursuit of this goal, this summer, the City and CPS Energy completed negotiations on an Indefeasible Right of Use Agreement that will permanently and irrevocably grant the City the use of utility fiber. With this assurance, the City will be able to extend access to COSANet to other governmental partners that can meet certain technical and financial requirements. The City is currently in dialogue with the University of Texas System to connect its three San Antonio campuses to COSANet.
In 2013, the City began exploratory negotiations with Google Fiber regarding the potential deployment of a city-wide fiber network which resulted in the execution of a lease agreement making city property available for the installation of fiber huts. In early 2014 San Antonio was short-listed as a future Google Fiber city. We expect Google Fiber to announce by the end of the year that it will deploy a fiber network in San Antonio. Following Google Fiber’s announcement, AT&T negotiated a similar lease agreement with the City and announced that it would be augmenting its U-verse network in San Antonio to provide gigabit service by year’s end.
The City is also pursuing the development of a Master Broadband Plan which will take into account policies to promote private investment in broadband networks, equitable broadband access to all members of the community, and deployment of small cell technologies. The plan will also address the role of COSANet in the broader context of a city-wide broadband strategy, and identify regulatory and legislative policies that will aid the City’s ability to promote universal broadband access while retaining local authority over land use and revenue streams from private use of its rights-of-way.
San Antonio understands that the economic and educational success of its citizens is tied to access to the information highways of the future, and the City must play an active role in this regard.