The Citizen’s Technology Advisory Committee met in early December to review the progress being made with the implementation of the City’s fiber network. The agenda included updates on existing projects plus some new areas of opportunity to explore.
One new area that was mentioned was the development of “white space” delivery technology for data and/or Internet services. White space is the old frequencies that were used for broadcast television (channels 4-13, for example) before the mandated change to digital television a few years back. These frequencies are now being developed for wireless data communications. The main advantage is that the potential range of the signal is miles and miles compared to what is available now through Wi-Fi and the like. This opens up great opportunities for distributing data and Internet services without the expense of large wiring projects. The whole system is still in the development stages but offers great potential for savings in the future.
Speaking of wiring, the City of Edmonds missed out on an opportunity to get Snohomish County PUD to pull some fiber cable for the city at a greatly reduced cost. PUD had said that it was pulling fiber cable to many areas of the city for its own purposes, and offered to do the same for the City at the same time — charging only for the cable itself and a small amount for the contractor to pull two cables rather than just one.
In the long run, this probably would have saved the city 80 percent or more over the cost of hiring its own contractor to do a separate install. But alas, $250,000 wasn’t available in the budget to pay for the work: An example of how being in financial peril can cost you money if you can’t take advantage of savings opportunities.
In other CTAC news, Edmonds has filed an applicatip0n to become a “Google” city in which Google is picking test cities to develop fiber services and help underwrite the costs. This would be an excellent opportunity for Edmonds to develop its fiber network with a leader in the industry. Google has already chosen one city for this project — Palo Alto — but is expected to pick several more. Both Karl Nelson, the city’s IT manager, and Stephen Clifton, city development director, are following this process.
Work continues on developing the city’s first true commercial customer of its fiber network, which will serve as a test bed for the business model of selling the fiber services. Nelson also mentioned that as part of the city’s continuing efforts to utilize fiber for the City’s internal needs, they had converted over another service that will save the city over $7,000 annually.
CTAC meets once a month, on the first Tuesday, at City Hall. The public is welcome.
Edmonds resident “Citizen Harry” Gatjens is providing regular reports to My Edmonds News on the workings of the Edmonds city government, including the 2010 Citizens Levy Committee and the Citizens Technology Advisory Committee.