Muni Fiber and Politics

Jay Ashworth jra at
Mon Aug 4 23:24:03 UTC 2014

----- Original Message -----
> From: "William Herrin" <bill at>

> 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.

You have forgotten here, Bill (I am feeling charitable, so I will not add
... no, I said I wouldn't add it) "MRC".  Unlike some things for which 
bonds would be floated, this sort of service *would be being charged
to someone, every month*.  

Sure, you won't get 100% take, but we factor that in.

And, the number of times it's been said notwithstanding, I think 
a resaonably defensible case can be made that consumer services are
pretty close to as good as they need to be at this point; for the 
*average* consumer, you're pretty hard pressed to run out of space
on GigE downhill; uphill even moreso.  Sure, there are edge cases,
but we call them that for a reason.

> 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.

Was there an argument there?

> > 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.

That sounds like an argument in *favor* of the Muni providing backstop
service at L2, rather than the position against I thought you took.

> > 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.

Ah.  Then we *are* singing the same song, or most of it.

> 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.

Hmmm.  This isn't the view I'd been getting from you on this, I don't 

-- jra
Jay R. Ashworth                  Baylink                       jra at
Designer                     The Things I Think                       RFC 2100
Ashworth & Associates          2000 Land Rover DII
St Petersburg FL USA      BCP38: Ask For It By Name!           +1 727 647 1274

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