Muni Fiber and Politics

William Herrin bill at
Mon Aug 4 16:13:41 UTC 2014

On Fri, Aug 1, 2014 at 4:25 PM, Leo Bicknell <bicknell at> wrote:
> On Aug 1, 2014, at 9:44 AM, Owen DeLong <owen at> wrote:
>> IMHO, experience has taught us that the lines provider (or as I
>> prefer to call them, the Layer 1 infrastructure provider) must be
>> prohibited from playing at the higher layers.
> Owen has some really good points here, but may be overstating his case
> a smidge. [...]
> Municipalities can be different.  It’s possible to write into law that
> they can offer L1 and L2 services, but never anything higher.  There’s
> also a built in disincentive to risk tax dollars more speculative, but
> possibly more profitable ventures.

Hi Leo,

I can think of issues that arise when the municipality provides layer
2 services.

1. Enthusiasm (hence funding) for public works projects waxes and
wanes. Generally it waxes long enough to get some portion of the
original works project built, then it wanes until the project is in
major disrepair, then it waxes again long enough to more or less fix
it up.

Acting as a layer-2 service provider will tend to exacerbate this
effect. Let's all build gig-e to the homes! Great. And in 10 years
when gige is passe there won't be any money for the 10 gig upgrade but
the municipality will still have 20 years to go on the 30 year bond
they floated to pay for the gige deployment. And no money for the
equipment that corrects the IPv6 glitchiness or supports the brand new
LocalVideoProtocol which would allow ultra high def super interactive
television or whatever the rage is 10 year out.

Single mode fiber's usefulness doesn't expire within any funding
horizon applicable to a municipality. Gige service and any other lit
service you can come up with today does.

2. It is in government's nature to expand. New big city service not
arriving fast enough? We'll do it ourselves! Dear county
commissioners, it'll only take a little bit of money (to do it badly),
come on approve it, let's do it. You know you want it.

> I can also see how some longer-distance links, imagine a link from
> home to office across 30-40 miles, might be cheaper to deliver as 100M
> VLAN than raw dark fiber and having to buy long reach optics.

Long-reach optics are relatively cheap, or at least they can be if you
optimize for expense. The better example is when you want ISP #1,
phone company #2, TV service #3, data warehouse service #4, etc. With
a lit service, you only have to buy the last-mile component once.

> I can never see a case where letting them play at Layer 3 or above helps.

Layers 2 and 3 are fuzzy these days. I think that's a bad place to draw a line.

Rather draw the line between providing a local interconnect versus
providing services and out-system communications.

With a multi-service provider network there are, IMO, major advantages
to implementing it with private-IP IPv4 instead of a layer 2 solution.
No complicated vlans, PPoE or gpon channels. Just normal IP routing
and normal access control filters available in even the cheap
equipment. Then run your various virtual wire technologies (e.g. VPNs)
over the IP network. Everybody is a peer on the network, so the
infrastructure provider doesn't need to know anything about
customer-service provider relationships and doesn't need to implement
any special configurations in their network to serve them.

Bill Herrin

William Herrin ................ herrin at  bill at
Owner, Dirtside Systems ......... Web: <>
Can I solve your unusual networking challenges?

More information about the NANOG mailing list