Portland's next fiasco: fiber
Every internet project that the City of Portland has touched has turned to trash almost instantly. We're still watching the goofball "free wi-fi" deal with MetroFi die a slow and painful death on traffic light poles around town. Those of us who have been around for a while also remember the city's quixotic lawsuit against the cable companies -- something about forcing them to carry other carriers' data across their lines. This legal action went nowhere, but at a huge cost to Portland taxpayers, for lawyers.
We thought that with the departure of "Opie" Sten, the city's obsession with dominating internet communications within its limits would die off. But no! Never underestimate the persistence of power-hungry politicians and bureaucrats. Our next venture into this completely unproductive realm is about to begin.
They're calling it FTTP -- "fiber to the premises."
Readers of this blog have been chattering about this with us for years, but it wasn't until we received this official notice from the city late last week that we saw it confirmed with our own eyes. The city government is about to undertake to build a "fiber network" that would run fancy city-owned cable to every home and business in town. Apparently your current, private, high-speed cable or DSL line just isn't good enough, and in order to save life in the city as we know it, you'll need to be buying your internet service from the city. The rumor we have heard is that it is going to run through the sewer system -- appropriate, perhaps.
Anyway, this latest development is completely consistent with Portland's bizarre reality disconnect when it comes to priorities. You know how you now pay your water bill to something called "City of Portland Utilities"? They didn't open a new bank account in that name for nothing. They've got plans. Think big. Think really big -- we're talking megalomania big. Maybe Fireman Randy will break through his intense separation anxiety and bring Opie himself back to run it.
Here are some of the
The City of Portland (“City”) Office of Cable Communications and Franchise Management (“OCCFM”) is issuing an RFP to hire expert consulting services to assist with developing, issuing and managing a Request for Interest (“RFI”) process for Private Sector entities to potentially partner with the City of Portland in developing Fiber To The Premises (FTTP) infrastructure in the City. Development of the RFI is a key outcome of the City’s Phase 2 FTTP Business Case and accompanying Staff Report (“Phase 2 Case & Staff Report”).We don't know about you, but we get all the fiber we need from these. At a time when the city needs to start thinking seriously about its debt and the threat it poses to basic services, another pet project and blank check are just about the last things on earth that the place needs. Especially when it has to do with computers, which the City of Portland simply has never handled well and probably never will.
This Portland City Council held a work session on November 20, 2007, and authorized moving forward with an RFI in the manner recommended in the Phase 2 Case & Staff Report. This RFP for professional assistance in developing, issuing and managing the RFI is being issued pursuant to the direction of the Portland City Council at the work session, and subsequent funding by the Council, on the recommendation of Commissioner Dan Saltzman....
The Portland Community Fiber Network (“CFN”) as envisioned in the City’s FTTP Business Case and accompanying Staff Report (“Phase 2 Case & Staff Report”) will provide the infrastructure necessary to spur innovative technologies, job growth, economic development, sustainability, education, and community development in the City of Portland. High-bandwidth broadband is widely-recognized as a key driver of future economic competitiveness and is increasingly recognized as a potential driver of sustainability. Incumbent providers have elected not to provide FTTP infrastructure in Portland in the near term, and are therefore not expected to invest the necessary funds to upgrade their present systems to meet future City and community needs. Portland’s suburbs, meanwhile, are being wired with fiber potentially rendering Portland a technological bedroom community in the region.
The Phase 2 Case & Staff Report set forth a business case and the policy rationale for a municipally owned and financed Open Service Provider fiber-to-the-premises (“FTTP”) system in Portland. (Note: the Phase 2 Case & Staff Report, together with the Phase 1 Report and other relevant and essential background documents, remain posted on the OCCFM website at this link: http://www.portlandonline.com/cable/index.cfm?c=45468)...
OCCFM now seeks proposals from individuals, firms, teams or consultants, hereafter called “Proposer(s),” with demonstrated experience in developing an RFI and working and securing viable potential private sector partners and community support for a citywide Fiber-to-the-Premises (“FTTP”) broadband network. OCCFM proposes to engage the successful Proposer for the following services: Assist in designing and implementing an overall RFI process that will yield one or more partners so that the City can move forward with FTTP deployment. The title of the ultimate RFI is "Request for Interest"; this is a specific and deliberate choice that comes from Commissioner Saltzman's office. It is important that the ultimate RFI be framed to encourage action-oriented responses ("Interest") not merely passive responses ("Information").