[Davisgig] Dueling OpEd's in the Enterprise
rob at omsoft.com
Sun Jun 2 10:03:48 PDT 2019
The first time I met DC he was negative on municipal broadband, and has
refused to meet with DavisGIG. Other residents have talked to him on the
subject and they report him as very pessimistic and negative. He ha as
hardened it seems. There is language used here that I heard about a
month ago from a report on one of those meetings, and so he seems
determined to shut it down, and has likely convinced the rest of the CC
to do the same.
To get him so agitated to put out such a strong hit piece means
something. The city staff report too is trying to shut this off hard at
the next meeting.
Methinks they doth protest too much. Whether is covering for the
Comcast franchise debacle, or huge corporations are their friends, or a
personality conflict I cant say.
Here is a link to the OpEd you all helped create that went live this
At this point, I'm carrying on with my final letters to CC today, will
speak at the meeting, but we will have to see where it goes from there.
It would be prudent to ask CC not to make any major decisions about this
at that meeting, but to hopefully give it more time and consideration.
Commentary: Municipal broadband network would be a huge risk
By Dan Carson
Special to The Enterprise
This Tuesday, the Broadband Advisory Task Force will step forward with
its final comments on whether the city of Davis should build and operate
a municipal fiber network that could bring higher broadband speeds and
new services and technology to our community.
BATF’s community broadband advocates wrapped up three years of hard work
as citizen volunteers with a letter endorsing such a venture in concept.
The panel did not offer a specific plan to accomplish their dream,
calling instead for more financial and technical studies of building
such a system. All Davis citizens should read and consider the
conclusions of BATF and its response by city staff. I welcome their
advice and thank them for their public service.
But don’t just read their latest letter — read all of the information
the task force produced. Under the auspices of BATF, the city hired one
of the top teams of telecom experts in the country, CCG Consulting and
Finley Engineering, to assess the feasibility of a municipal fiber
network in Davis and whether local residents would sign up for it. They
determined that a municipal broadband project would be costly and risky
and that community interest in committing to pay for such a service is
weak. Specifically, they found that:
* Building such a network in Davis would be costly. The entire system
would have to be buried underground. Our high population density means
conduit and fiber must be laid down both sides of residential streets,
instead of the customary one side. High labor costs would boost
construction and operating costs.
* The total cost of construction would exceed $100 million, comparable
to the cost of a new water system or sewage treatment plant. Bond
issuance fees, working capital, capitalized interest and a debt service
reserve would bump up borrowing costs for construction to as much as
* Similar ventures have failed in Monticello, Minn., Crawfordsville,
Ind., and Alameda.
* Because investors view broadband revenue bonds as pretty risky, the
city might have to pursue a general obligation bond (requiring
two-thirds voter approval) and make our General Fund a backstop for
paying off bonds if the broadband venture failed. That could put
pressure on the funding source used to pay for police, fire, parks, and
* Even under fairly optimistic assumptions about the number of customers
who would sign up for municipal fiber, the consultants said, “the
financial projections for building fiber within the city were not as
good as the city had hoped for.” Operating losses would occur on Day 1
and range from $34 million to $81 million over 25 years. Competitive
pressures mean that the system would be unable to charge higher rates to
customers to match Davis’ higher costs.
* Because customer fees would likely fall short of supporting a
municipal fiber system, the city would have to seek voter approval for a
tax hike to provide between $33 million and $60 million in taxpayer
subsidies. A sales tax increase of a half-cent or more is considered
most likely. Locking up tax money for a municipal fiber system would
require two-thirds voter approval. The consultants said winning over
Davis voters, who recently rejected a parcel tax hike for road repairs,
“would undoubtedly require a major effort to educate the public and get
* Comcast, our biggest local broadband provider, has a track record of
cutting rates and improving its bundled services to crowd out
competitors. A Davis municipal broadband network might need even more
public taxpayer dollars to compete.
* Davis has good broadband options today, even without the development
of a municipal fiber system. Comcast is now advertising 1 Gbps and 2
Gbps internet download speeds in their “Gigabit” and “Gigabit Pro”
packages. Only 16 percent of Davis residents are unhappy with their
* A college town could be tough for Davis broadband, with students
likely to be fickle customers. Moreover, large student apartment
complexes in Davis have locked in long-term deals with various private
providers for internet and cable services, and Comcast and AT&T are
moving aggressively to lure more such customers.
* Only 21 percent of Davis residents said they would definitely buy
their service from a city system. “This is significantly lower than what
we have seen in other markets,” the consultants stated, and “indicates a
market that is not massively unhappy with the incumbent providers and
not wildly enthusiastic about fiber. It’s a market where a new provider
would need to prove themselves and expend significant marketing effort
to win over customers.”
Recent developments make a large public investment in broadband seem
more risky than ever in a highly competitive, and increasingly
disruptive, broadband marketplace.
The FCC last year opened the gates for cellular wireless 5G service by
imposing strict time limits for cities to allow the installation of 5G
equipment on utility and light poles. Two companies have already filed
permits to establish 5G networks in the city of Davis – permits it has
no legal choice but to approve. And, the master of all business
disrupters, Amazon, has begun launching thousands of low-level
satellites into orbit capable of providing broadband worldwide.
Competitors like SpaceX**are hot on their heels. Broadband technology is
morphing rapidly and the market is fragmenting.
Despite the troubling findings in the CCG and Finley Engineering
reports, task force members remain steadfast in their support of the
concept of a municipal fiber system. They are asking the city to spend
more money on studying such ideas as building a municipal fiber network
in stages or levying assessments instead of taxes to pay for it.
I look forward to hearing more about these ideas, but worry about a
bullet train-style boondoggle in which construction starts only to find
out that the rest of the money needed to finish a network isn’t coming.
Davis could end up building a “network to nowhere.” Imposing citywide
assessments or taxes could force Davis consumers who want to keep their
Comcast or AT&T bundles to pay a second time for a municipal broadband
system they don’t want. That doesn’t seem fair.
Nobody disputes the benefits of improved high-speed broadband for
economic development, education, technological innovation and addressing
the digital divide. The question is, how do we get these benefits
without saddling our taxpayers with huge financial risks? We already
face an $8 million a year funding gap for basic city services over the
next 20 years.
This Tuesday, I would also like to get the community’s feedback on a
different approach I call, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” Instead of
further studies of municipal broadband, should we explore how we can
forge innovative partnerships with the private sector and UC Davis to
foster high-speed broadband competition that will improve service and
reduce monthly bills for Davis businesses and residents?
On Saturday, June 1, 2019, 10:42:45 AM PDT, Robert Nickerson
<rob at omsoft.com> wrote:
I'd get your coments in early. They dont want to be reading this stuff
at the last minute.
As this could be our last hurrah, Im sending 3 emails, past present future.
Attached is the first one, I hope to have the others out tonight.
Is this too strong or offensive a thing to say something like:
"City Staff has been wrong all along. Harriet was wrong about Comcast.
Astound on consent with no BATF input was wrong. This staff report
analysis of municipal fiber is also wrong...etc"
On 6/1/2019 10:26 AM, Matthews Williams wrote:
To facilitate this process I have attached three Word documents
(1) the original BATF memo to Council from 2018,
(2) the side-by-side discussion document that has what Chris
proposed as the text of the second BATF memo to Council on the
left, and (most of) the suggested revisions on the right,.
(3) the various suggestions provided by BATF members in the
April BATF members
Being able to copy and paste from those documents should help avoid
unnecessary retyping between now and Tuesday.
On Saturday, June 1, 2019, 8:35:07 AM PDT, Lorenzo Kristov
<lkristov at cal.net> <mailto:lkristov at cal.net> wrote:
Good suggestion Jim. I will try to talk with Lori about that today.
> On May 31, 2019, at 10:13 PM, Jim Frame <jhframe at dcn.org
<mailto:jhframe at dcn.org>> wrote:
> Mike Webb made it clear to me that city staff isn't going to solicit
a contract from Lori Raineri unless the CC directs them to do so. My
suggestion would be for Lori to draft a contract, package it with a CV
and a cover letter, and submit it to Mike with cc's to the
councilmembers. Although it's too late to get that onto the Tuesday
agenda, it would introduce the city players to the possibility. Even a
letter of intent from Lori (along with a CV; that's important because
Mike told me doesn't know anything about her) would be better than nothing.
> On 5/31/2019 1:05 PM, Lorenzo Kristov wrote:
>> The BATF did recommend working with a muni finance expert on funding
options, that was one of the two next steps recommended, it just didn’t
>>> On May 31, 2019, at 12:34 PM, Robert Nickerson <rob at omsoft.com
<mailto:rob at omsoft.com> <mailto:rob at omsoft.com <mailto:rob at omsoft.com>>>
>>> Since it didn't come from the BATF the city wont consider it. If we
could get actual BATF members to sign off on it they might be more
>>> As a BATF member how do you feel about Staff seemingly going
totally against the BATF recommendation as expressed in its letter?
Anything we 'd need to do should be sent out by tomorrow am at the latest.
>>> On 5/31/2019 12:00 PM, Lorenzo Kristov wrote:
>>>> Just thinking out loud, but in the interest of time I’ll send
these initial thoughts for y’all to react to.
>>>> Staff is recommending the entire municipal effort be put to rest,
and the big fear they’re playing on is cost. So my thought would be to
bring CC a next step recommendation that costs almost nothing and could
make the project seem more feasible from a cost perspective. That is,
recommend that city execute a pro bono contract with Lori Raineri to
explore and lay out potential financing approaches, working with a city
staff person and a small group of citizen volunteers from among this
email list, perhaps others. But small (3 people or so) so it can start
moving quickly and minimize scheduling problems, and report back to CC
in a couple months. I’d emphasize including someone with financing
expertise (e.g., Matt, David) and focus narrowly on the funding aspects
of the project rather than the technical.
>>>> On a parallel track, it might make sense for a few more
technically oriented folks (e.g., Rob, David, Jeff) to sketch out what
would be needed from a consultant to address the second BATF recommended
next step, the technical. I wouldn’t expect city staff to be working on
this yet, since Diane did say they’re planning to come back with the
Wave contract. But if CC approves step 1 to begin working formally with
Lori, then we could have step 2 ready in a month or so, to lay out a
rough SOW for a consultant on the technical, cost, etc. elements of the
phased implementation. A main argument for Wave is that “there is no
other proposal on the table.”
>>>> Other thoughts?
>>>> — Lorenzo
>>>>> On May 31, 2019, at 9:41 AM, Robert Nickerson <rob at omsoft.com
<mailto:rob at omsoft.com> <mailto:rob at omsoft.com <mailto:rob at omsoft.com>>>
>>>>> Hi Folks
>>>>> Yowch folks, take a look at Diane Parro's staff report. It reads
like it was written from the POV of a large incumbent carrier, lol.
>>>>> I suppose anything we send in support needs to counter Diane's
points one at a time. There is absolutely no positive evidence about
this presented in the staff report.
>>>>> Any ideas on how to go from here?
>>>>> -------- Forwarded Message --------
>>>>> Subject: [Davisgig] PLEASE READ Staff Report
>>>>> Date: Thu, 30 May 2019 22:10:13 -0700
>>>>> From: rob <rob at omsoft.com <mailto:rob at omsoft.com>>
>>>>> To: davisgig at list.omsoft.com <mailto:davisgig at list.omsoft.com>
>>>>> HI All
>>>>> The agenda is out and the staff report item on community
broadband is out. I don't think we are going to have any luck as Diane
Parro is saying this should be shut down. None of the points in this
memo were covered at any BATF meetings, the product of which was the
>>>>> This message has been scanned for viruses and
>>>>> dangerous content by *MailScanner*
<http://www.mailscanner.info/>, and is
>>>>> believed to be clean.
>>>>> <08-Broadband-Task-Force-Final-Report.pdf><Attached Message Part.txt>
>>>> This message has been scanned for viruses and
>>>> dangerous content by *MailScanner* <http://www.mailscanner.info/>,
>>>> believed to be clean.
>>> Robert Nickerson
>>> UCD Class of 1996
>>> CEO, Om Networks
>>> cell: 5308483865
>>> www.omsoft.com <http://www.omsoft.com>
>>> This message has been scanned for viruses and
>>> dangerous content by *MailScanner* <http://www.mailscanner.info/>,
>>> believed to be clean.
>> This message has been scanned for viruses and
>> dangerous content by *MailScanner* <http://www.mailscanner.info/>,
>> believed to be clean.
> Jim Frame jhframe at dcn.org <mailto:jhframe at dcn.org>
> Frame Surveying & Mapping 609 A Street Davis, CA 95616
> -----------------------< Davis Community Network >-------------------
> This message has been scanned for viruses and
> dangerous content by MailScanner, and is
> believed to be clean.
This message has been scanned for viruses and
dangerous content by MailScanner, and is
believed to be clean.
UCD Class of 1996
CEO, Om Networks
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the Davisgig