I am about to inherit 26 miles of dark fiber. What do I do with it?

Fletcher Kittredge fkittred at gwi.net
Mon Nov 10 15:39:30 UTC 2014

"Goodwill" != "nice".  Goodwill is respect, honesty and a genuine concern
for a positive outcome. "nice" is frequently concentrating more on avoiding
conflict than on a good outcome. I care more than most about the outcome
than most because I will share your failure.  I will be sitting on some
panel having to explain why the failure of your town's system isn't
indicative of the failure of all municipal broadband, just as I now have to
explain Provo, UT, Burlington, VT,
Minn; and Dunnellon and Quincy, Fla

Patrick Darden's comments on getting good legal advice and security design
are great points. Municipal broadband is governed by federal, state and
municipal laws. The last two vary widely... Fiber ownership, overlash
rights, additional pole attachment.  Stay in telecommunications space and
out of electrical space if you can.

Join the FTTH Council; it is very cheap for what you get. The resources
available to members are extensive; concentrate on the public policy and
business resources (disclaimer: I speak at their conferences on financing).
www.muninetworks.org is another, though it comes with a perspective.

Any technical advice from this forum is suspect because not enough has been
shared about the goals of the project to make any technical choices.
However, there are some general technical goals that all projects should
examine, if only to discard them:

1) Expandability: We are in the early days of gigabit fiber networks and
your network should last at least 20 years. Design in such a way that your
network can grow significantly. Issues include fiber count, connection
architecture, slack loops for many modifications. If you are building a
"business only" network, think through how it would be expanded to all
residential customers at a later date. By definition infrastructure is a
shared resource and the more users the greater the value and the lower cost
per user.  Plan to share any infrastructure you design with everyone.

2) Flexibility: don't assume today's uses will be tomorrow's uses. Can you
switch from passive to active if that is required later? You inherited a
fiber plant that I bet you are going to find is insufficient to the task.
Learn from that and don't pass on the same mess to later generations.

3) Open access, preferably dark fiber. Long discussion, but I think there
is a compelling case that the best systems are usually open access dark
fiber. See "flexibility" and "expandability" above and "network
consolidation" below.

4) Plan for network consolidation. Every other network built in the past
has gone through a network consolidation phase: telegraph, railroads,
electrical, telephone, cable. The network economies of scale are so
enormous that no single, small network can match them. Plan for that future
and use a standard OSP design that matches the networks around you.

On Mon, Nov 10, 2014 at 7:40 AM, Fletcher Kittredge <fkittred at gwi.net>

> Gah!
> Municipal fiber networks can be total failures or the best investment a
> community can make. It all depends on the implementation.
> There are eight steps one needs to get right: 1) public policy goals, 2)
> technical goals meet the public policy goals, 3) survey community
> demographics and existing network assets, 4) build community consensus, 5)
> select the right business plan and obtain funding, 6) technical design of
> OSP and operating structure, 7) RFI/RFP, 8)select EPC vendors and
> fanatically oversee construction.
> Steps 1-5 are the most important and the level of success will depend on
> the quality of their implementation. If a half-assed job is done at any
> step, the outcome will not be good.  This discussion has been focused on
> step 6: technical design. It is impossible to do a good technical design if
> you don't understand the problem you are trying to solve.
> There are vast differences between different municipalities public policy
> goals and business plans. It doesn't make sense to copy Chattanooga's
> implementation because their situation is different than yours (you have an
> existing fiber network, which is always a warning sign. They are serving
> all residents and businesses and you imply you are focused on businesses.)
> Focus on developing a deep understanding of what problem the city leaders
> are trying to solve, then figure out how to hire a competent OSP design
> person and make them do a good job. This is a hard task in and of itself.
> The failure of one municipal broadband system reflects badly on all
> municipal broadband systems. Good luck.
> On Sun, Nov 9, 2014 at 11:22 PM, ITechGeek <itg at itechgeek.com> wrote:
>> I would say the OP is starting out right by reaching out to people who can
>> give advice and point him in the right direction.  I would say the first
>> place to start would be budget.
>> I don't think calling this is a trainwreck before it even leaves paper
>> isn't very helpful.
>> One option might be to start in phases, if his POPs can provide decent
>> coverage, maybe start out w/ a wireless solution to start getting
>> customers
>> on the system and start getting revenue coming in (or if this is a
>> city/town backed venture, get voters to see how useful this can be to
>> maybe
>> get more budget for future rollout).
>> Also talk to business customers to see if you extend fiber to them, what
>> kind of services will they want.  If you can get large customers to say
>> "Yes, I will or would like to purchase a gig of bandwidth between two
>> office or a gig of Internet access", that should help w/ either city or
>> private finance backing to show there will be demand.
>> You might even be able to get help from some companies (If you contact
>> corporate or gov't sales for Cisco/Nortel/etc., they can probably have
>> some
>> techs bring in some equipment for small scale shows).
>> If this is a city trying to do this, reach out to places like Chattanooga,
>> TN or Lafayette, LA or any number of other cities (mostly in foreign
>> countries) that have successfully done this.
>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LUSFiber
>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EPB
>> On a final note, the Stockholm model I've always thought was the best idea
>> (even before I heard Stockholm invested in it) - Stockholm owns the
>> infrastructure and private companies provide the actual customer services
>> across the city owned infrastructure (let true competition happen instead
>> of the monopoly and duopoly in most cities and if it doesn't work out, you
>> can always start selling services later if true competition doesn't work).
>> http://cis471.blogspot.com/2009/04/why-is-connectivty-in-stockholm-so-much.html
>> (This was the most up to date page I could find in English doing a
>> comparison).
>> -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> -ITG (ITechGeek)
>> ITG at ITechGeek.Com
>> https://itg.nu/
>> GPG Keys: https://itg.nu/contact/gpg-key
>> Preferred GPG Key: Fingerprint: AB46B7E363DA7E04ABFA57852AA9910A DCB1191A
>> Google Voice: +1-703-493-0128 / Twitter: ITechGeek / Facebook:
>> http://fb.me/Jbwa.Net
>> On Sun, Nov 9, 2014 at 10:25 PM, Faisal Imtiaz <faisal at snappytelecom.net>
>> wrote:
>> > I would suggest that you do some rapid field deployment education in
>> > regards to fiber networks.
>> >
>> > You might consider joining  WISPA and or FISPA (two industry
>> > associations), where you have folks building out fiber networks, who are
>> > very willing to share their experience and tell you what is working and
>> > what is not working.
>> >
>> > Working with Dark fiber can be as simple as you like, or as complicated
>> as
>> > you want it to be. However this is one area that it is not un-common to
>> > make things appear a lot more expensive and complicated then what they
>> have
>> > to be...
>> >
>> > Depending on what you are inheriting, and what you have to be
>> responsible
>> > for, I would suggest that you spend some time on the web, local library,
>> > and some of the OSP related publications to get a good understanding of
>> > what is done and why....before just falling for industry jargon.
>> >
>> > I should be fun... :)
>> >
>> > Faisal Imtiaz
>> > Snappy Internet & Telecom
>> >
>> >
>> > ----- Original Message -----
>> > > From: "Lorell Hathcock" <lorell at hathcock.org>
>> > > To: nanog at nanog.org
>> > > Sent: Sunday, November 9, 2014 9:18:15 PM
>> > > Subject: I am about to inherit 26 miles of dark fiber. What do I do
>> with
>> > it?
>> > >
>> > > All:
>> > >
>> > > A job opportunity just came my way to work with 26 miles of dark fiber
>> > in and
>> > > around a city in Texas.
>> > >
>> > > The intent is for me to deliver internet and private network services
>> to
>> > > business customers in this area.
>> > >
>> > > I relish the thought of starting from scratch to build a network right
>> > from
>> > > the start instead of inheriting and fixing someone else's mess.
>> > >
>> > > That being said, what suggestions does the group have for building a
>> new
>> > > network using existing dark fiber?
>> > >
>> > > MPLS backbone?  Like all businesses these days, I will likely have to
>> > build
>> > > the lit backbone as I add customers. So how would you recommend
>> scaling
>> > the
>> > > network?
>> > >
>> > > I have six strands of SMF that connect within municipal facilities.
>> Each
>> > new
>> > > customer will be a new build out from the nearest point. Because of
>> > having
>> > > only six strands, I don't anticipate selling dark fiber. I believe I
>> > need to
>> > > conserve fibers so that it would be lit services that I offer to
>> > customers.
>> > >
>> > > I would like to offer speeds up to 10 GB.
>> > >
>> > > Thoughts are appreciated!
>> > >
>> > > Sincerely,
>> > >
>> > > Lorell Hathcock
>> >
> --
> Fletcher Kittredge
> 8 Pomerleau Street
> Biddeford, ME 04005-9457
> 207-602-1134

Fletcher Kittredge
8 Pomerleau Street
Biddeford, ME 04005-9457

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