Today: Atherton council looks at cabling town for free Internet

Optical cable system would be much faster than now available

Atherton's City Council members have a busy day today with a goals-and-strategy session starting in the morning and a late afternoon study session devoted to the idea of installing optical fiber cable throughout the town, which could be used to provide free basic high-speed Internet connections to everyone in Atherton.

The goals-and-strategy session was scheduled to start at 11 a.m. in the Holbrook-Palmer Park main house, 150 Watkins Ave.

The fiber system study session starts at 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 6, in the town's council chambers at 94 Ashfield Road.

Also on the study session agenda are a review of capital improvements to be included in the 2015-2016 budget, and possible updates to the town's business license regulations. New building department tracking software will also be demonstrated.

The presentation on the optical fiber system shows that a private company would install fiber cables underground throughout the town at its own cost, with the cables running to a central office. One cable would go to each property, with the option of purchasing a bundle of four cables for an even higher level of service. The presentation says the cost for the additional bundle of cables, which would be owned by the purchaser, would be about $6,000.

The presentation was put together by Mayor Rick DeGolia and council member Bill Widmer. They are both on the town's Technology Committee, which has been discussing this concept for almost a year. The presentation says that free basic Internet service could be provided to every Atherton resident through the one free cable connection by the Atherton Library.

Mr. DeGolia says the goal is to have 10 gigabit connections available through the optical cable, both for downloads and uploads. Mike Farmwald, a member of the Technology Committee said the typical connection, for now, will be closer to 1 gigabit, which is 10-100 times faster than most Internet services now available to local residents. The fiber system is expandable to more than 1 terabit a second in the future, he said.

The free Internet service, the presentation says, would be provided through the Atherton Library, which would lease access to the fiber network and provide basic Internet "for all network users" as well as direct library services such as computer help and education.

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6 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 6, 2015 at 10:42 am

High-speed Internet has gotten so expensive that Athertonians just can't afford it any longer.

5 people like this
Posted by not "whatever"
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 6, 2015 at 12:44 pm

Jeez - Whatever must be really sorry to live so close and have to intermingle with others who might be more successful and have worked harder than himself...I guess maybe it's time for "whatever" to collect all the assets and redistribute to whatever "whatever" feels is appropriate...
What a tool.....

5 people like this
Posted by Me too
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 6, 2015 at 12:58 pm

Yep, once again there's way too much Class Envy in Menlo Park!

6 people like this
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 6, 2015 at 1:46 pm

I think this is a case of "if the best we can get is Comcast Cable or AT&T DSL carriers", then we should look elsewhere. Their service IS expensive and underwhelming.

I am hoping the Atherton initiative will serve as a model for other communities to study and hopefully invest in fiber.

4 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 6, 2015 at 3:29 pm

Jeez "not whatever" calm down before you fry one of your circuits. So sensitive about comments in jest. Taking things way to seriously. Count to ten and chill.

2 people like this
Posted by Puzzled
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on May 6, 2015 at 4:33 pm

Sounds like a very expensive project to wire all of Atherton. I don't see how the company would make their money. Is the basic service so basic that they expect us all to pay $6,000 for more?

I'd love to be rid of Comcast and their extortionate rates and I understand that in Europe broadband is cheaper and faster than the service we have here. What's the catch with this proposal?

Like this comment
Posted by Member
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 6, 2015 at 6:38 pm

This would be fabulous. Thanks to Mr Widmer and Mr DeGolia for spearheading this possibility!

Like this comment
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of another community
on May 6, 2015 at 6:48 pm

What, the good folk of Atherton are deprived of the opportunity to obtain their own high-speed internet connections? Even with their resources?

2 people like this
Posted by robert
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on May 7, 2015 at 9:19 am

Due to the space gaps between homes in Atherton this is both an expansive and expensive project. Missing from the article is a few things
1. Who is the private provider (I am sure there is a reason it was not mentioned)
2. Were other providers offered a chance to do the same in Atherton. Not hinting at a conspiracy, but I would like to know if this was an open invitation?
3. I agree - that done right other Penn. communities should look at this. It is done in other states by Google and the like. Although Google likes to remain anonymous...

Like this comment
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 7, 2015 at 10:18 am

really? is a registered user.

Anything to get out of the clutches of the big Cable Companies! Menlo Park could do their own broadcast WiFi for the downtown as well- how attractive would that be to small companies moving in!

2 people like this
Posted by Jenny Redo
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 7, 2015 at 10:43 am

Is it possible to put this project and the other wires/cables around town underground? That way, when a tree falls, we don't all go down?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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