Friday, March 9, 2007

Canadian companies to finance and build Palo Alto FTTh project

[After many delays and cancellations Palo Alto is proceeding with its long anticipated Fiber to the Home project. The Royal Back of Canada, one of Canada's largest banks, in partnership with 180 Connects will be providing the financing. PacketFront from Sweden will be providing the network technology and 180 Connect will be doing the engineering. It is good to see the private sector, rather than municipality undertake the financing and construction of this open access network. 180Connect is nominally a Canadian company – sadly it is a story often repeated in this country where a small successful company that started in Alberta and eventually moves to the USA – but leaves its brass plate and public listing in Canada for tax purposes. All the management and staff for 181Connects now resides in the USA. Excerpts from Palo Alto On line -- BSA]

PA council pushes ahead with broadband
By 5-1 vote, council opts to work with 180 Connect firm to build and operate fiber-based network

In a long-awaited decision, the Palo Alto City Council voted 5-1 Monday night to pursue negotiations with Idaho-based 180 Connect Network Services, Inc. to develop a high-speed broadband fiber network for the city.

The project is expected to cost about $41 million, the bulk of which 180 Connect would be expected to finance. 180 Connect has said it would be working with two partners: PacketFront, Inc, with international experience in open-access broadband networks, and the Royal Bank of Canada’s Capital Market.

When the city officially announced its intention to develop a broadband network last year (after discussing the matter for nearly a decade), only two companies came forward with formal proposals.

180 Connect’s proposal adheres to the city’s requirements, Yeats said, but the company it has a poor financial record and is facing two lawsuits.

In addition, its estimation of public interest in the subscribing to the service may be unrealistically high, Yeats said.

Yeats told the council he does not know of any city in California that is successfully operating a high-speed fiber network.

Several members of the public addressed the council, volunteering their time to help improve the city’s project.

Vice Mayor Larry Klein agreed a committee could be formed, but then rescinded his offer when he learned it would be subject to the state’s open meeting law. Instead, Mayor Yoriko Kishimoto indicated she may put together a less formal mayor’s committee of lay experts from the community to advise the council during negotiations.

The council action will require city staff to postpone or eliminate other projects, City Manager Frank Benest said. He said he will prepare a report to inform the council how its decision will affect other city work.