Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Palo Alto Update; quintuple play revisited

LPF posted a note yesterday pointing to Palo Alto's community meeting and expressing support for their project. Today they have an update which announces that their guest speaker developed the feasibility study for Lompoc City in California.

Now that would be enough alone to pique our interest, considering the recent landing (with a considerable though muffled thud) of our utility's feasibility study. Its worthwhile to look at another feasibility study and see what others do with the idea. The comparison is instructive. Lompoc's, for instance, is clearly intended to be widely read and is designed for public consumption.

What might interest close readers of this blog (and certainly intersts this writer) is that the feasibility study suggests that Lompoc go for a "quadruple" play: Voice, Video, Telephony...and Wireless. You will recall that I posted on that earlier in a piece called "Philly's WiFi Cloud and the Quituple Play." Philly is considering a double play: wireless internet and WiFi phones. At that point I fanatasized that Lafayette could turn its triple play into a quintuple by adding in a simple, cheap wifi network to provide Lafayette with a pervasive "cloud" of connectivity.

Snippets from that post:

But what makes it interesting is that it leads you to realize how easy it would be to turn a triple play in Lafayette in a quintuple play by adopting Philly's plan. Imagine: superfast internet in the home, a WiFi blanket that covers the city with more speed than you can currently buy from the incumbents for home use, a phone in the home that has the same number as the one that you carry out to the mall, and gobs of digital HD TV. All for one low, low utility price.

It could happen; neither startup cost nor technology would be much, if any, barrier.

The incremental costs of adding a WiFi net to the fiber net would be small. (Or maybe WiMax if it actually matures.) Five percent of the fiber? I haven't done the numbers but I'd bet no more and probably less. The costs of adding voice (VOIP) to that would be nil. All that needs is software which is already available—some of it is already there in free form .... The monster bandwidth of fiber makes the additional cost of bandwith barely visible.

From Lompoc's feasibility study:

An economically viable data-only service based on unlicensed spectrum using the 802.11 (Wi-Fi) standard could be deployed throughout the City of Lompoc within weeks or months for....aproximately 5% of the cost of a fiber optic network.

Isn't it nice to be right once in awhile?

Let's continue to dream here folks. Boldness has been a recent theme here. For my money (and it will be my money) pushing hard and presenting a very attractive, unique, nay visionary plan to the people is the way to excite the public and their representatives and ensure construction of a viable network. I worry about the current quietist approach...Acadians go for a little flavor, a little zest. Slow, gray, and safe is less popular here than in the rest of the world. (Ok, there is no fair way to present our current plan as slow, grey, or safe...but hey why not kick it up an notch?)

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