Muni Fiber and Politics

Owen DeLong owen at
Mon Jul 21 21:01:22 UTC 2014

Sounds like you chose a particularly bad municipality.

I live in PG&E territory, so I can't directly comment on residential municipal power.

However, I can say that my friends who live in SVP territory all have better service
at a lower price than what I get from PG&E. (SVP is the City of Santa Clara power
agency). Their service has proven both more reliable and more consistent in regards
to voltage, lack of transients, etc. (Yes, we've actually put measurement equipment in
and compared).

My water is municipal and while it doesn't taste great without filtration due to the
antiquity of the mostly iron pipes and the amount of rust that gets picked up from the
system along the way, it's quite safe to drink and has been very reliable. I've not had
any better experience from any of the private water companies I've ever dealt with.

My sewer has been trouble free and the storm drains in my neighborhood by and large
have worked without issue. On the few occasions where we've had minor storm drain
issues, it has been during very heavy rain periods and the city has still managed to resolve
the issues very promptly and without any significant hazard or collateral damage developing.

PG&E has been relatively reliable with my gas connection, but I can point you to
some residents in San Mateo county who could tell a very different story about
their experience with PG&E's gas transmission system. (And some who can no
longer tell any stories as a result of PG&E's gas transmission system).

My garbage/recycling is provided by a third-party private contractor that has a monopoly
granted to them by the city. I am billed by the city. Their service has left much to be
desired, but when I have contacted the city about issues, the city employees have
been very prompt about addressing them and seem to do well taking the contractor
to task as needed. Frankly, I wish the city would just take over the actual operation
as I think they would do a better job than the contractor (Green Waste). At least the
new contractor is somewhat better than the previous one (BFI).

I'm in the city of San Jose.

We don't have municipal fiber to residential or business buildings, but the city does
have its own rather extensive fiber network which includes, among other things,
apparently every street-light in the city. (would be nice if they'd have included
nearby buildings in that build-out or at least the possibility of attaching them later
when they did that, but I'm sure some anti-government-competition weenies
shot that idea down early on).

I'm sorry your city is so bad at its jobs. Many cities are not. I wouldn't hold San Jose
up as a shining example of a great municipality by any measure, but overall, they
do seem to get the job done and are somewhat functional on average. I'd give them
a C overall as a grade.

I think they are about average as major municipalities go.


On Jul 21, 2014, at 12:50 , William Herrin <bill at> wrote:

> On Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 3:08 PM, Blake Dunlap <ikiris at> wrote:
>> My power is pretty much always on, my water is pretty much always on
>> and safe, my sewer system works, etc etc...
> Mine isn't. I lost power for a three days solid last year, I've
> suffered 3 sanitary sewer backflows into my basement the last decade
> and you should see the number of violations the EPA has on file about
> my drinking water system. Only the gas company has managed to keep the
> service on, at least until I had a problem with the way their billing
> department mishandled my bill. Didn't get solved until it went to the
> lawyers.
> And I'm in the burbs a half dozen miles from Washington DC. God help
> folks in a truly remote location.
>> Why is layer 1 internet magically different from every other utility?
> It isn't.
> Regards,
> Bill Herrin
> -- 
> William Herrin ................ herrin at  bill at
> Owner, Dirtside Systems ......... Web: <>
> Can I solve your unusual networking challenges?

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