PALO ALTO FIBER THOUGHTS
Learn more about what we’ve heard so far from the community and community questions answered
The City is currently assessing the feasibility of providing high-speed, local fiber internet services to Palo Alto residents and businesses. In this new blog we share more about what we’ve heard from the community, and learn about ways you can be involved in the next steps of the project. In addition, the City is calling all fiber influencers, participate in the Palo Alto Fiber Feedback Community as feedback is gained on different aspects of this citywide initiative.
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 five ways you can be involved and engaged with the Palo Alto Fiber project, and the second blog provides more information about the community benefits of potentially providing local internet services.
What We’ve Heard So Far from the Community & Community Questions Answered
We appreciate the interest so far on this citywide effort! The February 24 Information Session caught the community up on all things fiber and answered specific community questions.
In February’s Fiber blog, we answered community questions about the fiber project, including:
- why the City is pursuing fiber
- what services would be offered
- where would fiber be potentially deployed first
- when the community may be able to access City-provided fiber
Below are answers to more community questions about the City’s fiber effort currently underway:
What does the City expect to charge potential fiber internet customers?
The assessment underway will help the City determine speeds and pricing for internet services offered by the City. A market research survey is being conducted among Palo Alto residents and businesses in the coming months, which will help the City understand what monthly costs are expected by the community. Please look out for the survey, which will be sent to your email on file with Palo Alto Utilities Department.
The City’s objectives for Palo Alto Fiber include establishing community-owned internet services that provide faster download and upload speeds, more competitive pricing to customers, higher reliability, and better customer service, while keeping your dollars local in the community.
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 will also help to reduce the cost of doing business in the City, providing lower cost business internet services to those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It also allows the City to foster innovation and economic development, keeping our small and medium businesses competitive with other areas.
How will the project be funded?
The City intends to use funding from the $32.5 million Fiber Fund. The City will work to identify funding sources like federal and state grants, bonds, and other sources to support the fiber initiative.
Would the City own and operate fiber internet services, or would the City hire a third private party?
If the project is approved by the City Council, the City of Palo Alto would be the internet service provider (ISP), however, the City may entertain certain strategic vendors to assist with the deployment and/or operations. The City has been deploying fiber over the past 20 years for its own internal uses. In areas where the fiber is available, the City also leases its fiber to businesses and service providers on a limited basis. In 2020, at the direction of City Council and the Utilities Advisory Commission, the City began work on a Fiber Optic Expansion Plan to explore the best way to expand its existing fiber to provide citywide broadband services to residents and businesses. The City is currently in the engineering and business planning phase of this Plan, which will be completed and reviewed with the Utility Advisory Commission and City Council in the summer of 2022, after which, final decisions will be made if and when to move forward.
What is the project timeline?
The current project phase includes outreach and engagement within the community and creating the design for the fiber broadband network, to be completed in the summer of 2022. Magellan, the City’s engineer, is currently conducting a constructability survey, during which time Magellan personnel survey routes, assess utility poles and make sure fiber can be built cost effectively. Key milestones coming up include a market survey released for community input and the City Council will consider market survey results and other staff updates at a joint study session with the Utilities Advisory Commission, tentatively scheduled in late summer 2022 to decide next steps. Follow along as the project progresses.
For more questions and answers, visit the Palo Alto Fiber Hub resources.
Community outreach and engagement efforts continue to be a top priority for this project. In the coming months, a market research survey will be emailed and available online to Palo Alto residents and businesses. Once the survey closes, Magellan and City staff will analyze the community input, which will help inform the Fiber business plan.
Staff will report survey results, community input and other details to the City Council and Utilities Advisory Commission at a joint study session tentatively in late summer 2022. Following the study session, City Council will consider next steps in the process.
Join the fiber conversation in several ways. Participate in any and all upcoming opportunities, sign up to receive FIBERLink — a dedicated Palo Alto Fiber monthly eNewsletter — follow this blog series, pin your household or business on the Fiber Hub, and join the Fiber Feedback Community and be an influencer. Learn more below!
Ways to Be Involved and Stay Informed
Fiber Feedback Community
We are developing a Fiber Feedback Community of influencers, which is community members excited about the potential of local internet services and those that want to be in the front seat as this effort continues. The Fiber Feedback Community is a group of community members who are interested in taking on a more active role in engagement. Anyone can join the Fiber Feedback Community. Once established as a Feedback Community member, you will receive periodic emails from the City with more ways to engage, provide input, and give feedback as project milestones occur.
Email interest to email@example.com.
Be Informed and Stay Engaged
Since the launch in October 2021, over 5,000 community members have visited the Fiber Hub to connect, learn, and engage. We’re just as excited to share that about 240 of you shared your excitement and ways you would use Palo Alto Fiber. This interactive online platform provides the opportunity to see sentiments of other community members, the ability to comment on and like other’s posts, and sign up to receive updates. Now it’s time to share the hub with your neighbors! Help us build on the excitement of the current efforts underway associated with Palo Alto Fiber by sharing ways your community networks can get engaged.
Join the conversation on social media each #FiberFriday and engage your communities. Through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Nextdoor, and LinkedIn, you can share the City’s posts to help your networks learn about fiber and engage other Palo Altans. Creating your own social media conversation about Palo Alto Fiber is a great start to connecting and joining the conversation on this effort.
Of course, one of the best ways to be informed is through FIBERLink, the monthly publication dedicated to providing news, engagement opportunities, and project updates related to Palo Alto Fiber. Sign up to receive the monthly electronic newsletter to your inbox by visiting www.cityofpaloalto.org/FIBERLink today!
Online Resources to Connect, Learn, and Engage
- Connect with others in the community on the Palo Alto Fiber hub
- Learn more in the Palo Alto Fiber Blog series
- Engage with staff and share questions or comments by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- Learn project details on the City’s dedicated project page
- Connect and share through social media on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram
- Follow us on medium.com at medium.com/paloaltoconnect to catch up on the latest blogs.