News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


PRESS RELEASE 02/23/2010
Subject :

Palo Alto City Council Directs Staff to Submit Proposal to Google's "Fiber for Communities" Plan
Contact : James Keene, City Manager, City of Palo Alto    650-392-2563

Palo Alto, CA – With a unanimous vote last night, the Palo Alto City Council directed City staff to submit a response to Google’s Request for Information (RFI) for their “Fiber for Communities” plan. According to City staff, Palo Alto’s Citywide Ultra High-Speed Broadband System project aligns well with Google’s stated goal to build and test ultra high-speed broadband networks in a limited number of trial communities.

“Google’s Fiber for Communities initiative presents a real and exciting opportunity for the City to realize its planned goal of universal high-speed broadband on an open-access basis,” said Mayor Pat Burt. “Because Palo Alto’s telecommunications vision and Google’s stated goals are closely aligned, we intend to submit a proposal to serve as a local test bed for Google and help show a way to a faster and more accessible Internet for people and communities far beyond Palo Alto.”

Palo Alto’s community and political leadership has long favored a citywide open access Fiber-to-the-Premise (FTTP) network. Over a decade ago, Palo Alto took the first step in its quest to become an "Open Network City" by building its own dark fiber backbone, a critical piece of the infrastructure to support a 21st Century local and regional economy.

“We have made a tremendous commitment to achieving a citywide Fiber–to-the-Premise network in Palo Alto and think we’re a good fit with Google’s project. Palo Alto has some distinct advantages in providing a viable proposal to Google and the resolve to help make it happen fast. We have our own public utility, have staff expertise in constructing and maintaining our 41+ mile dark fiber loop in the City, and we’ve successfully proven that FTTP is viable in Palo Alto,” said City Manager James Keene. “In our view, the City is optimally positioned to accommodate considerable expansion in network activity and growth in numbers of customers. The RFI is excellent opportunity to tell Google how anxious we are to partner with them and propel this industry into the next phase of innovation.”

Keene further believes that Palo Alto has some distinct advantages in submitting a competitive proposal:

  • Palo Alto has demonstrated FTTP Leadership. Over a decade ago, Palo Alto began its quest to become an "Open Network City" by building its own dark fiber backbone, the critical infrastructure to support a 21st Century local and regional economy.
  • Palo Alto has significant infrastructure in place -- 41-miles of dark fiber with nearly 200 connections along with a Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) trial neighborhood.
  • The City offers an opportunity to ‘fast start’ Palo Alto residences. The City and Council are ready politically, legally and financially to promptly develop a coherent FTTP plan with a viable private partner.
  • Palo Alto is a municipal leader in Silicon Valley and among municipal utilities nationally. The City owns all eight utilities (electric, natural gas, water, wastewater collection, wastewater treatment, storm drains, fiber optic, refuse and recycling [outside contractor]). Municipally-owned utilities since 1896, only California municipality that owns all utilities. City owns all rights-of-way, e.g. poles, conduits. Smart Grid, advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), and a myriad of other utility applications may be tested.
  • Palo Alto is home to innovators, entrepreneurs, managers, professionals, professors, and students -- all of whom are good candidates to discover how to use one gigabyte speeds. Many Google employees live in Palo Alto.
  • Palo Alto is fortunate to have world class health care located nearby. Stanford Hospital and Clinics, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (Sutter Health), Kaiser Permanente and the VA Palo Alto Health Care System are all close by and could be invited to participate in ways comfortable, acceptable, and beneficial to all.
  • Palo Alto has been working on a citywide open fiber plan for years and that significant effort now seems to be exactly what Google is proposing.

“Recently the city worked to develop an open fiber network with a public private partnership. Many legal and political issues were worked through to make the City much better prepared to act quickly and effectively when an opportunity emerges," said Valerie Fong, Director of Utilities. "And with our Fiber Optic Reserve Fund, we have $6.5 million available now to invest in new and innovative fiber deployment technologies."”

“Palo Alto seems to be exactly what Google is seeking, an outstanding Silicon Valley community world renowned for its innovators,” said Bob Harrington, Adviser to the Mayor on broadband issues. “This effort represents potentially a $50 million dollar investment by Google, a global corporation with real clout. Our next door neighbor would make an excellent partner. Palo Alto is home to many world renowned enterprises, businesses, start-ups, professionals, and venture capital firms whose assets go home at night.”

Following Council’s decision last night, a City Manager Report will be presented to City Council on Monday, March 1, to provide an update on what staff is working on related to community outreach. The City will complete its proposal and submit it to Google by the March 26, 2010 deadline.

“Our citizens represent an audience Google has to be seeking. A coordinated plan for community engagement is needed that can be implemented successfully at the grassroots level. Our objective has to be that everyone with a computer in Palo Alto clicks a Google button to nominate Palo Alto; the button must be clicked by March 26,” said Harrington. “We have lots of home based businesses, startups galore, plus dozens of well known enterprise-sized companies. Google will want to see how many individuals and which companies are interested in community fiber,” he added.

For more information on the City’s discussion about this issue, visit

For more information about Google’s RFI, visit