Introduction to Net-WorkShop

[29April2012] Net-WorkShop 2.0 is scheduled for June 20, 2012 in Seattle Washington. Details are tentative. Watch this space for updates.


Below please find information about Net-WorkShop 1.0 in San Francisco on September 19, 2011.

WHO/WHAT: Net-WorkShop was a one-day workshop for invited participants who make decisions about how city-sized Internet access networks get planned, funded, built and operated. The focus of Net-WorkShop was on FTTH and middle-mile fiber networks, but Net-WorkShop also included network practitioners with other network technologies because many kinds of decisions are common to all small facilities-based networks.

WHEN: September 19, 2011

Net-WorkShop Agenda:

  • 8:00 Breakfast, Registration
  • 9:00 Introductions
  • 10:30 Break
  • 11:00 Two Themes:
  •    1) From Middle-Mile/Anchor Institution Nets to Connected Communities
  •    2) Muni Networks without a Municipal Utility
  • 12:30 BOF Lunch
  • 2:00 Sponsor Welcomes & Keynotes
  • 3:30 Break
  • 4:00 BOF Reports & Discussion
  • 5:30 Reception

WHERE: Internet Archive Headquarters, 300 Funston Street, San Francisco, California 94118.

WHY: Muni-sized networks start at a disadvantage. Large telcos and cablecos have huge installed bases that allow relatively inexpensive field testing of technology ideas, deployment models and marketing ideas, and then rapid learning from failures as well as rapid deployment of successes. In addition, bigcos often have powerful representation in state houses, PUCs and in federal government. Smaller network operators don’t have these advantages of scale. Net-WorkShop is designed to give small network practitioners access to necessary scale by creating a forum in which small network practitioners can learn from each other to effectively scale up.

Successful U.S. municipal networks today share one critical characteristic. They succeed in the context of an already-established municipal utility provider. Municipalities that seek a more advanced communications infrastructure than incumbent cable and telephone companies provide but don’t have other public utilities are at a disadvantage. Typically they begin with a middle-mile project and/or fiber to anchor institutions, and build incrementally from there. The gap is profound. How to get from middle miles and anchor institutions towards retail services for communities is far from obvious.

Net-WorkShop is to explore the gap. We heard from the key practitioners in best-case cities like Chattanooga, Bristol, Virginia and Kansas City, Kansas. We heard from middle mile projects such as OpenCape, One Maryland and Wired West, Massachusetts. We opened the floor to discussion of how different approaches meet the challenge of moving from middle mile towards business and retail customers, the issues that arise and the approaches that succeed. We laid the foundations for a community to sustain and guide our exploration.

Net-WorkShop was held in cooperation with NATOA’s 31st Annual Conference in San Francisco, September 20-23. NATOA’s theme was “Gigabit Communities 2011.”