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Palo Alto Fiber Blog Series: Potentially Providing Local Internet Services

Learn more about Palo Alto Fiber, how it could benefit the community, plus gain a recap of the Feb. 24 Info Session

The City is in the process of assessing the feasibility to provide fiber internet services to residents and businesses via the Palo Alto Fiber project. In this new blog, learn about what Palo Alto Fiber is, receive answers to some common community questions, read about the benefits of the City providing local internet services, a recap of a recent community meeting and more!

The City sees high-speed internet as a community-wide need that impacts residents, businesses, schools, hospitals, public safety, and the community’s overall quality of life. To meet the needs of the community, the City is considering leveraging its existing fiber network and investment in new fiber to offer fast, reliable internet services to businesses and residents. Read the first blog in the series to learn about five ways you can be involved and engaged with the Palo Alto Fiber project.

What is Palo Alto Fiber?

Palo Alto Fiber is a current effort underway that would potentially provide local internet services to all Palo Alto homes and businesses. Last year, the City Council directed staff and Palo Alto Fiber project consultant, Magellan Advisors, Inc. (Magellan) to move forward with assessing the feasibility of building out the current fiber network that exists in Palo Alto. Since May 2021, the project team has been working on informing the community and building community awareness and making progress on broadband design and planning, engineering, and business modelling and feasibility analysis.

Missed the Recent Community Meeting? Watch Now and Learn More

Watch the February 24 Fiber Community Information Session to learn more about the fiber project, efforts currently underway and more.

Since the launch of the Palo Alto Fiber Hub in October 2021, many community members have reached out to ask questions and voice interest in learning more and sharing excitement for the effort underway. The City heard from the community at the February 24 Fiber Community Information Session. Some of the themes we heard during the meeting include questions about project funding, how to get involved, when the community can expect fiber, and more.

Below are some of the most common questions asked about Palo Alto Fiber. More frequently asked questions will be provided online and throughout this blog series. If you have questions, please email fiber@cityofpaloalto.org.

  • What other services, like phone or TV, are being considered as part of Palo Alto Fiber? Currently, only internet services are being explored. A market research survey in the coming months will provide more insight to Palo Alto residents and business needs.
  • If other internet service providers currently offer fiber to Palo Alto residents and businesses, why is the City pursuing this project? Fiber is not available to all Palo Alto residents and businesses today. While existing providers have some fiber, the majority of Palo Alto does not have access. The City’s goal is to ensure all of its residents and businesses have equal access to fiber and affordable access to fiber. The City also believes creating Palo Alto Fiber means faster resolution times and download speed, competitive pricing to customers, high-speed reliable connections at affordable costs, and it keeps dollars local. Public investment in broadband infrastructure also creates more choices for our residents and businesses, improving services and keeping costs down. Providing locally owned high-speed internet allows the City to retain and attract companies, further developing a diverse and robust local economy.
  • Where would Palo Alto Fiber be deployed first? The City is currently assessing the feasibility of providing fiber internet services to Palo Alto home and businesses. Part of this assessment is determining what neighborhood and business districts are served first. The City’s process will work to minimize construction impacts to each community, preserve the environment and ensure efficient construction. As these factors are reviewed, the City will communicate a plan for hooking up neighborhoods and business districts.
    All homes and businesses in the City of Palo Alto will be able to sign up to receive Palo Alto Fiber, if the City Council approves the project and directs staff to pursue providing fiber internet services.
  • When can I expect to receive Palo Alto Fiber to my home and business?
    The City is currently assessing the feasibility of providing fiber internet services to Palo Alto homes and businesses. Since City Council will need to approve the project before the City begins providing internet service, we do not have a timeframe at this point.

More questions and answers will be provided in the next blog in the series, follow along to learn more!

You can also read more frequently asked community questions here.

Features That Could Be Offered Through Palo Alto Fiber

One question we have heard quite a bit is what features could be offered through Palo Alto Fiber. Some of the potential features could include symmetrical upload and download speeds, privacy, data security, no data caps, and straight forward pricing with no hidden fees.

Learn more about these types of features below

Symmetrical Speeds: As a refresher for those of us who have forgotten what upload and download speeds mean, upload speed refer to how quickly you can put information on the internet and download speed refers to how quickly you can access information on the internet. Simply put — upload is putting photos on Instagram or sharing a PDF through email and download is watching a show on Netflix or browsing the internet at large. Most DSL and cable internet plans don’t offer symmetrical speeds. Having symmetrical speed allows internet users to do nearly anything they want simultaneously. Share large graphic files and join a teleconference while your kids are playing video games and streaming their favorite YouTuber.

Privacy and Data Security: Fiber internet services are secure, supporting residents and business’ online privacy needs. Fiber is the most secure type of internet service as there is no way to tap into fiber. In addition, no data sharing would take place. The City is committed to ensure the system maintains residents and business’ privacy.

No Data Caps: Other internet service providers slow down their services as a user consumes data, preventing them from fully utilizing the internet. Palo Alto Fiber would not put a cap on data usage, ensuring steady, reliable, high-speed internet for all residents and businesses.

Straight Forward Pricing: Once the monthly cost is set, there will be no hidden fees or promotional fess that change at a later date. Providing competitive fiber internet services and pricing is an important commitment. The City would ensure that there is straight forward, simple pricing that everyone can understand.

Learn more about the potential community benefits of Palo Alto Fiber here.

Fiber by the Numbers

If the City were to pursue expanding its fiber backbone network to all residents and businesses, Palo Alto would join over 100 communities in 20 states that offer locally-owned internet services. This means faster speeds, potentially lower prices, local control, and community reinvestment. At the start, 1 gigabit would be offered and is the gold standard for broadband. Simple upgrades could see 10 gigabit speeds, which is the next generation of broadband speeds.

So, what does a 1 gigabit speed mean in real terms. A gig means fast downloads like:

  • 25 songs in 1 second
  • A TV show in 3 seconds
  • A video game 3 seconds
  • An HD movie in 36 seconds

Learn more about the Palo Alto Fiber project here.

Upcoming Engagement Opportunities

Palo Alto Fiber Focus Groups

Check back to learn more about the Palo Alto Fiber Focus Groups and email us your interest in registering for a session at fiber@cityofpaloalto.org. Dates and details coming soon!

Calling All Influencers!

We are developing a Feedback Community of influencers and community members excited about the potential of local internet services. Join our feedback community and provide input on various aspects of the project as milestones occur. Email interest to fiber@cityofpaloalto.org

Market Research Survey

A market research survey will be emailed to Palo Alto residents and businesses and be available online soon. Please fill out the survey to help inform the project team about your internet preferences and service needs. Survey results and community input received will help inform the City Council as they decide on next steps, help determine services details like pricing and other options.

Join the Fiber Conversation and Stay Involved

Staying engaged and involved with Palo Alto Fiber is easy!

Sign up to receive FIBERLink, the monthly digital newsletter dedicated to Palo Alto Fiber.

Pin your support on the community Get Involved map, learn more about benefits and other resources on the Palo Alto Fiber Hub.

Do you have other questions that haven’t been answered? Send an email to fiber@cityofpaloalto.org or call (650) 329–2161 to connect with City staff.

Visit the City’s website to learn more about specifics about the project.

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City of Palo Alto

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