Muni Fiber and Politics

Keenan Tims ktims at
Wed Jul 23 00:10:24 UTC 2014

To take this in a slightly different direction, as long as we're looking
for pies in the sky, has anyone considered the "bundling" problem?

If we assume that a residential deployment pulls one strand (or perhaps
a pair) to each prem, similar to current practice for POTS, there's a
resource allocation problem if I want to buy TV services from provider A
and Internet services from provider B (or maybe I want to provision a
private WAN to my place of work). This could be done with WDM equipment
by the muni in the L1 model, or at L2, but it isn't something that's
often mentioned. I suspect L2 wins here, at least on cost.

Or are we going forward under the assumption that all of this will be
rolled into "the Internets" and delivery that way and competition in
that space will be sufficient?


Are we assuming that this will be taken care of by Internet-based delivery

On 07/22/2014 02:00 PM, Owen DeLong wrote:
> The beauty is that if you have a L1 infrastructure of star-topology fiber from
> a serving "wire center" each ISP can decide active E or PON or whatever
> on their own.
> That's why I think it's so critical to build out colo facilities with SWCs on the other
> side of the MMR as the architecture of choice. Let anyone who wants to be an
> "ANYTHING" service provider (internet, TV, phone, whatever else they can imagine)
> install the optical term at the customer prem and whatever they want in the colo
> and XC the fiber to them on a flat per-subscriber strand fee basis that applies to
> all comers with a per-rack price for the colo space.
> So I think we are completely on the same page now.
> Owen
> On Jul 22, 2014, at 13:37 , Ray Soucy <rps at> wrote:
>> I was mentally where you were a few years ago with the idea of having
>> switching and L2 covered by a public utility but after seeing some
>> instances of it I'm more convinced that different ISPs should use
>> their own equipment.
>> The equipment is what makes the speed and quality of service.  If you
>> have shared infrastructure for L2 then what exactly differentiates a
>> service?  More to the point; if that equipment gets oversubscribed or
>> gets neglected who is responsible for it?  I don't think the
>> municipality or public utility is a good fit.
>> Just give us the fiber and we'll decided what to light it up with.
>> BTW I don't know why I would have to note this, but of course I'm
>> talking about active FTTH.  PON is basically throwing money away if
>> you look at the long term picture.
>> Sure, having one place switch everything and just assign people to the
>> right VLAN keeps trucks from rolling for individual ISPs, but I don't
>> think giving up control over the quality of the service is in the
>> interest of an ISP.  What you're asking for is basically to have a
>> "competitive" environment where everyone delivers the same service.
>> If your service is slow and it's because of L2 infrastructure, no
>> change in provider will fix that the way you're looking to do it.
>> On Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 2:26 PM, Scott Helms <khelms at> wrote:
>>> One of the main problems with trying to draw the line at layer 1 is that its
>>> extremely inefficient in terms of the gear.  Now, this is in large part a
>>> function of how gear is built and if a significant number of locales went in
>>> this direction we _might_ see changes, but today each ISP would have to
>>> purchase their own OLTs and that leads to many more shelves than the total
>>> number of line cards would otherwise dictate.  There are certainly many
>>> other issues, some of which have been discussed on this list before, but
>>> I've done open access networks for several cities and _today_ the cleanest
>>> situations by far (that I've seen) had the city handling layer 1 and 2 with
>>> the layer 2 hand off being Ethernet regardless of the access technology
>>> used.
>>> Scott Helms
>>> Vice President of Technology
>>> ZCorum
>>> (678) 507-5000
>>> --------------------------------
>>> --------------------------------
>>> On Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 2:13 PM, Ray Soucy <rps at> wrote:
>>>> IMHO the way to go here is to have the physical fiber plant separate.
>>>> FTTH is a big investment.  Easy for a municipality to absorb, but not
>>>> attractive for a commercial ISP to do.  A business will want to
>>>> realize an ROI much faster than the life of the fiber plant, and will
>>>> need assurance of having a monopoly and dense deployment to achieve
>>>> that.  None of those conditions apply in the majority of the US, so
>>>> we're stuck with really old infrastructure delivering really slow
>>>> service.
>>>> Municipal FTTH needs to be a regulated public utility (ideally at a
>>>> state or regional level).  It should have an open access policy at
>>>> published rates and be forbidden from offering lit service on the
>>>> fiber (conflict of interest).  This covers the fiber box in the house
>>>> to the communications hut to patch in equipment.
>>>> Think of it like the power company and the separation between
>>>> generation and transmission.
>>>> That's Step #1.
>>>> Step #2 is finding an ISP to make use of the fiber.
>>>> Having a single municipal ISP is not really what I think is needed.
>>>> Having the infrastructure in place to eliminate the huge investment
>>>> needed for an ISP to service a community is.  Hopefully, enough people
>>>> jump at the idea and offer service over the fiber, but if they don't,
>>>> you need to get creative.
>>>> The important thing is that the fiber stays open.  I'm not a fan of
>>>> having a town or city be an ISP because I know how the budgets work.
>>>> I trust a town to make sure my fiber is passing light; I don't trust
>>>> it to make sure I have the latest and greatest equipment to light the
>>>> fiber, or bandwidth from the best sources.  I certainly don't trust
>>>> the town to allow competition if it's providing its own service.
>>>> This is were the line really needs to be drawn IMHO.  Municipal FTTH
>>>> is about layer 1, not layer 2 or layer 3.
>>>> That said, there are communities where just having the fiber plant
>>>> won't be enough.  In these situations, the municipality can do things
>>>> like create an incentive program to guarantee a minimum income for an
>>>> ISP to reach the community which get's trimmed back as the ISP gains
>>>> subscribers.
>>>> I don't think a public option is bad on the ISP side of things; as
>>>> long as the fiber is open and people can choose which ISP they want.
>>>> The public option might be necessary for very rural communities that
>>>> can't get service elsewhere or to simply serve as a price-check, but
>>>> most of us here know that a small community likely won't be able to
>>>> find the staff to run its own ISP, either.
>>>> TL;DR Municipal FTTH should be about fixing the infrastructure issues
>>>> and promoting innovation and competition, not creating a
>>>> government-run ISP to oust anyone from the market.
>>>> Think about it: If you're an ISP, and you can lease fiber and
>>>> equipment space (proper hut, secured, with backup power and cooling
>>>> etc) for a subsidized rate; for cheaper than anything you could afford
>>>> to build out; how much arm twisting would it take for you to invest in
>>>> installing a switch or two to deliver service?  If you're a smaller
>>>> ISP, you were likely already doing this in working with telephone
>>>> companies in the past (until they started trying to oust you).
>>>> On Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 11:27 AM, Aaron <aaron at>
>>>> wrote:
>>>>> So let me throw out a purely hypothetical scenario to the collective:
>>>>> What do you think the consequences to a municipality would be if they
>>>>> laid
>>>>> fiber to every house in the city and gave away internet access for free?
>>>>> Not the WiFi builds we have today but FTTH at gigabit speeds for free?
>>>>> Do you think the LECs would come unglued?
>>>>> Aaron
>>>>> On 7/21/2014 8:33 PM, Miles Fidelman wrote:
>>>>>> I've seen various communities attempt to hand out free wifi - usually
>>>>>> in
>>>>>> limited areas, but in some cases community-wide (Brookline, MA comes to
>>>>>> mind).  The limited ones (e.g., in tourist hotspots) have been city
>>>>>> funded,
>>>>>> or donated.  The community-wide ones, that I've seen, have been
>>>>>> public-private partnerships - the City provides space on light poles
>>>>>> and
>>>>>> such - the private firm provides limited access, in hopes of selling
>>>>>> expanded service.  I haven't seen it work successfully - 4G cell
>>>>>> service
>>>>>> beats the heck out of WiFi as a metropolitan area service.
>>>>>> When it comes to municipal fiber and triple-play projects, I've
>>>>>> generally
>>>>>> seen them capitalized with revenue bonds -- hence, a need for revenue
>>>>>> to pay
>>>>>> of the financing.  Lower cost than commercial services because
>>>>>> municipal
>>>>>> bonds are low-interest, long-term, and they operate on a cost-recovery
>>>>>> basis.
>>>>>> Miles Fidelman
>>>>>> Aaron wrote:
>>>>>>> Do you have an example of a municipality that gives free internet
>>>>>>> access
>>>>>>> to it's residents?
>>>>>>> On 7/21/2014 2:26 PM, Matthew Kaufman wrote:
>>>>>>>> I think the difference is when the municipality starts throwing in
>>>>>>>> free
>>>>>>>> or highly subsidized layer 3 connectivity "free with every layer 1
>>>>>>>> connection"
>>>>>>>> Matthew Kaufman
>>>>>>>> (Sent from my iPhone)
>>>>>>>>> On Jul 21, 2014, at 12:08 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...
>>>>>>>>> Why is layer 1 internet magically different from every other
>>>>>>>>> utility?
>>>>>>>>> -Blake
>>>>>>>>>> On Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 1:38 PM, William Herrin <bill at>
>>>>>>>>>> wrote:
>>>>>>>>>>> On Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 10:20 AM, Jay Ashworth <jra at>
>>>>>>>>>>> wrote:
>>>>>>>>>>> Over the last decade, 19 states have made it illegal for
>>>>>>>>>>> municipalities
>>>>>>>>>>> to own fiber networks
>>>>>>>>>> Hi Jay,
>>>>>>>>>> Everything government does, it does badly. Without exception. There
>>>>>>>>>> are many things government does better than any private
>>>>>>>>>> organization
>>>>>>>>>> is likely to sustain, but even those things it does slowly and at
>>>>>>>>>> an
>>>>>>>>>> exorbitant price.
>>>>>>>>>> Muni fiber is a competition killer. You can't beat city hall; once
>>>>>>>>>> built it's not practical to compete, even with better service, so
>>>>>>>>>> residents are stuck with only the overpriced (either directly or
>>>>>>>>>> via
>>>>>>>>>> taxes), usually underpowered and always one-size-fits-all network
>>>>>>>>>> access which results. As an ISP I watched something similar happen
>>>>>>>>>> in
>>>>>>>>>> Altoona PA a decade and a half ago. It was a travesty.
>>>>>>>>>> The only exception I see to this would be if localities were
>>>>>>>>>> constrained to providing point to point and point to multipoint
>>>>>>>>>> communications infrastructure within the locality on a reasonable
>>>>>>>>>> and
>>>>>>>>>> non-discriminatory basis. The competition that would foster on the
>>>>>>>>>> services side might outweigh the damage on the infrastructure side.
>>>>>>>>>> Like public roads facilitate efficient transportation and freight
>>>>>>>>>> despite the cost and potholes, though that's an imperfect simile.
>>>>>>>>>> Regards,
>>>>>>>>>> Bill Herrin
>>>>>>>>>> --
>>>>>>>>>> William Herrin ................ herrin at bill at
>>>>>>>>>> Owner, Dirtside Systems ......... Web: <>
>>>>>>>>>> Can I solve your unusual networking challenges?
>>>>> --
>>>>> ================================================================
>>>>> Aaron Wendel
>>>>> Chief Technical Officer
>>>>> Wholesale Internet, Inc. (AS 32097)
>>>>> (816)550-9030
>>>>> ================================================================
>>>> --
>>>> Ray Patrick Soucy
>>>> Network Engineer
>>>> University of Maine System
>>>> T: 207-561-3526
>>>> F: 207-561-3531
>>>> MaineREN, Maine's Research and Education Network
>> -- 
>> Ray Patrick Soucy
>> Network Engineer
>> University of Maine System
>> T: 207-561-3526
>> F: 207-561-3531
>> MaineREN, Maine's Research and Education Network

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