Muni network ownership and the Fourth

Leo Bicknell bicknell at
Wed Jan 30 15:29:46 UTC 2013

In a message written on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 at 08:33:35AM -0600, Jason Baugher wrote:
> There is much talk of how many fibers can fit in a duct, can be brought
> into a colo space, etc... I haven't seen much mention of how much space the
> termination in the colo would take, such as splice trays, bulkheads, etc...
> Someone earlier mentioned being able to have millions of fibers coming
> through a vault, which is true assuming they are just passing through the
> vault. When you need to break into one of those 864-fiber cables, the room
> for splice cases suddenly becomes a problem.

Corning makes a pre-terminated breakout bay for the 864 cable
nicknamed the "mamu".  It is in essence a 7' rack, which is about
90% SC patch panels and 10% splice trays.  The cable comes in and
is fusion spliced to tails already pre-terminated in the rack.  I
don't know if they now have an LC option, which should be more
dense.  They are perhaps 1' deep as well, being just patch panels
in a 2-post rack, so they take up much less space than a cabinet.

To run some rough numbers, I live in a town with a population of
44,000 people, grouped into 10,368 "households".  It is the size
that if the MMR were pretty much perfectly centered 10km optics
should reach all corners of the town, but were it not centered more
than one MMR would be needed.

To put that in patch panel racks, 10,368 households * 6 fibers per
house (3 pair) / 864 per rack = 72 racks of patch panels.  Using a
relatively generous for 2-post patch panels 20sq feet per rack it
would be 1,440 sq feet of colo space to house all of the patch
panels to homes.

Now, providers coming in would need a similar amount of fiber, so
basically double that amount.  There would also need to be some
room for growth.  Were I sizing a physical colo for this town I
would build a 5,000 square foot space designed to take ~250 fiber
racks.  That would handle today's needs (< 150 racks) and provide
years of growth.

Note also that the room is 100% patch panels and fiber, no electronics.
There would be no need for chillers and generators and similar
equipment.  No need for raised floor, or a DC power plant.  The sole
difficult part would be fiber patch management, a rather elaborate
overhead tray system would be required.

> The other thing I find interesting about this entire thread is the
> assumption by most that a government entity would do a good job as a
> layer-1 or -2 provider and would be more efficient than a private company.
> Governments, including municipalities, are notorious for corruption, fraud,
> waste - you name it. Even when government bids out projects to the private
> sector these problems are seen.

There is almost nothing to bid out here in my model.  Today when a
new subdivision is built the builder contracts out all of the work
to the telco/cable-co specifications.   That would continue to be
the case with fiber.  The muni would contract out running the main
trunk lines to each neighborhood, and the initial building of the
MMR space.  Once that is done the ongoing effort is a man or two
that can do patching and testing in the MMR, and occasionally
contracting out repair work when fiber is cut.

The real win here is that there aren't 2-5 companies digging up streets
and yards.  Even if the government is corrupt to the tune of doubling
every cost that's the same in real dollars as two providers building
competitive infrastructure....add in a third and this option is still
cheaper for the end consumer.

However in my study of government, the more local the less corruption;
on average.  Local folks know what's going on in their town, and can
walk over and talk to the mayor.  City budgets tend to be balanced as a
matter of law in most places.  This would be an entirely local effort.

Would it be trouble free?  No.  Would it be better than paying money to
$BigTelcoCableCo who uses their money to argue for higher PUC rates,

       Leo Bicknell - bicknell at - CCIE 3440
        PGP keys at
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