Date:           Friday, July 6, 2007

To:             Honorable Councilmembers, City of Palo Alto
From:         Bob Harrington, Mayor-Appointed Community Advisor to Staff

Re:             Ultra-High-Speed Broadband Proposal Report to Council and the
             Public, Developments Subsequent to June 18, 2007 Council Meeting

Encouraging progress continues to be made on the ultra-high-speed broadband proposal to Palo Alto through the discussion meetings involving City of Palo Alto staff; consortium members 180 Connect, PacketFront and Royal Bank Capital Markets represented by their designated agents, NorthStar Capital Partners; and the Advisory Committee.

Rather than going over ground that will otherwise be covered by CMR 261:07 dated June 18, 2007, and a subsequent staff memorandum containing a number of attachments, all designed to update Council regarding current developments, I am attaching notes prepared by Tim Scott, Vice President, PacketFront summarizing our Meeting 4 discussions on June 28, 2007, during which we prepared for the Council meeting Monday, July 9, when this topic will again be discussed.  This will make our typical meeting transparent to the public, something we are all striving to regularly achieve. 

Topical issues are discussed at length with the objective of coming to solutions and/or agreements, item by item, so that our communications to Council are clear and as unambiguous as possible.  Admittedly, we are still in the information gathering phase of our preparation together, yet the more we get into it, the more likely it feels that something creative can be developed right here at home on the open-access ultra-high-speed broadband front that proves to be a significant positive for our community, both in benefits realized and risks avoided.  

Call for action.  This should not be a one-way street, not at all.  The collaborative effort now being advanced by the City and prospective vendors to the City on behalf of its citizens, businesses, non-profits, medical facilities, schools and government can, and should, be matched by at least equal efforts by each of the constituencies which will benefit from the resulting open-access network and the wide range of services offered.  So far, this has not happened.  Should it happen in a timely way, which means pretty soon, the result could be an ultra-high-speed broadband business plan much stronger than most currently imagine.

Look around this town.  “World class” is often used to describe so many of our institutions -- Stanford University, Stanford Hospital and Clinics, Stanford School of Medicine, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, our public schools, Stanford Shopping Center, Downtown Palo Alto, Hewlett-Packard, our City government, our municipally owned utilities, Roche Palo Alto, Wilson Sonini, our venture capital community, Varian Inc., Varian Medical Systems, Varian Oncology Systems, Facebook, research, our non-profits like the Jewish Community Center, the Palo Alto Housing Corporation, Opportunity Center, our open space, our neighborhoods, our citizens -- and so much more.

World class institutions didn’t become world class by sitting on their hands while their government, nearly the poorest of all the entities listed above, did all the heavy lifting.  World class institutions find a way to pro-actively pitch in, as they have routinely in this town; to make Palo Alto a better place to live, to raise a family, to socialize, to enjoy nature’s open space, to innovate, to do business, to practice one’s religion, to be inclusive of all cultures and economic circumstances, to meet our environmental challenges head on.  Palo Alto is known for world class innovation.  World class innovation practiced over a hundred years made Palo Alto what it is today.  World class is attracting enterprise leaders from all backgrounds to chose our neighborhoods for their families and employee families, to chose our community for their businesses.  World class encourages us to think again and again outside the box to triumph over significant challenges in our future. 

Challenges.  Global warming, greenhouse gases, traffic, the cost of shelter, time management, updating infrastructure, the list goes on and on.

The Internet is arguably the most important communication development in the world for at least the last half-century…telephone, 1890’s; television, 1940’s; Internet, 1990’s.  Now everything is going digital…the FCC is mandating that television morph completely from analog to digital by February 2009.  Computers have always been digital, as has the Internet.  Now the telephone, invented over a century ago, is making a quick transition to digital. 

How can the proposed open-access ultra-high-speed broadband project help us help ourselves meet our community challenges -- and more?  A fiber network serving homes, business, schools, medical facilities, non-profits, and government alike can handle with ease all the data traffic on the Internet, on television, on the telephone – and much more. 

It can help us get off our streets, and on to fiber -- to reap all the medical, scientific, educational, business and social information generated by all the world class Palo Alto and Stanford institutions, and more, noted earlier. 

No City cash or bonds needed – We are learning from consortium members that the City need not put up cash or issue any bonds.  We need to collectively think outside the box (we are world renown at this) to find creative ways to make a low risk, citywide open-access fiber network happen for Palo Alto.