Santa Cruz Tech Beat

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Google adopts Santa Cruz muni fiber model in Huntsville

By Steve Blum
Tellus Venture Associates
Special to Santa Cruz Tech Beat

February 24, 2016 — Santa Cruz, CA

The City of Huntsville, Alabama is following Santa Cruz’s fiber lead: building a fiber to the home (and business) network and leasing it out to a private operator. In Huntsville’s case the private operator is Google Fiber, while in Santa Cruz the partner is a local independent Internet service provider, Cruzio.

The lead consultants on the Huntsville project – CTC Technology and Energy – applied the lessons they learned working for the City of Santa Cruz

The partnership model announcement today between Huntsville and Google Fiber is on the model of that pioneered by Westminster, Maryland in 2014 and by Santa Cruz, California last year…

This innovative, shared-risk partnership model puts the locality in the business of building infrastructure, a business it knows well after a century of building roads, bridges, and utilities. The model leaves to the private sector (in this case, Google Fiber and any other provider that chooses to lease Huntsville fiber) all aspects of network operations, equipment provisioning, service delivery, and customer service.

The Huntsville Board of Utilities approved the project on Tuesday. Similar to Santa Cruz’s initiative, the cost is estimated to be in the $57 million to $60 million range, with construction taking three to four years to complete. The city will pay the capital cost of building the system, and recoup the money via lease payments from Google and, potentially, other service providers. In Santa Cruz, Cruzio will also bear some of the investment risk, committing to backfill any revenue shortfalls, up to a point.

Tellus Venture Associates is assisting the City of Santa Cruz with its fiber project. I’m not a disinterested commentator, take it for what it’s worth.

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