Mike Farmwald says the optical fiber cable system he'd like to run to every home in Atherton would give the town "the very best in the world" Internet access.
On July 15, the Atherton City Council gave the go-ahead to drafting a development agreement with Mr. Farmwald and the Atherton Fiber company he has formed to install a state-of-the art optical fiber system in Atherton.
Mr. Farmwald said in a presentation to the council that his company would like to send at least one optical fiber cable to each home in Atherton, and to give residents the option of buying a bundle of four cables for their home.
Internet, telephone and television providers, as well as alarm companies, could then lease the lines to provide very high speed services to Atherton homes, he said.
Cost of the four-fiber bundles would be $7500 for above-ground and $9500 for underground, he said.
Mr. Farmwald said he would also like to see the Atherton Library work with an Internet provider to try to make free basic Internet services available to Atherton homes.
"This is not up to me, but this is something I'd like to work with the library to do," he said. "I've talked to Google and others about potentially working with the library."
Mr. Farmwald said because 80 percent of Atherton now has above-ground utilities, that 80 percent of the optical fiber cables would be installed above-ground. In the 20 percent of the town with underground utilities, the cables would go underground. Homeowners would be responsible for bringing the cable from the street to their home, which he said could cost $500 to $1,000 if a conduit for cable does not already exist on a property.
The state-of-the art optical fiber cables could initially provide service at a gigabit per second, he said, 100 times faster than what is generally available now. The system would have the capability to go even faster, he said, up to a terabit a second, or 1,000 times faster than currently. The cables would not be shared, but would run directly to two "central offices" in Atherton.
Residents would still pay their phone, Internet and television providers; but because all could provide services over the optical system they could charge less and residents could easily change providers.
"I think there's a lot of demand for it," Mr. Farmwald said. "I feel pretty comfortable in risking the money to do it." Mr. Farmwald, who is a venture capitalist who was a co-founder of Rambus, said he has his own reasons as well.
"The reason I'm doing this is because I want this to my home," he said.
"I think we have the potential, at least for a short time, of going from kind of a mediocre Internet access to actually being the very best in the world," he said. "People will obviously catch up very quickly."
"I'm planning to put 10 gigabits into my home, just so we can claim we have 10 gigabits in the city not that I have any computers than go that fast," he said.