Mace Mess
On the WAVE/Astound Proposal: Who Benefits the Most from Granting Exclusive Access to One Corporation?

The Astound Fiber Contract Would Create a Citizen-Gouging Monopoly

Fiber-optics-internetAt the Broadband Advisory Task Force (BATF) meeting last night, the BATF recommended that the City Council defer action on Staff’s proposed Astound Fiber Contract.  If approved, the Astound Fiber Contract would grant one fiber company, Astoud/Wave, exclusivity on building out fiber in Davis, precluding a community-owned alternative.  The following letter was submitted to the Davis City Council in opposition to Staff's proposal.

It’s my understanding that the purpose of city government is to act as both the elected and the paid representatives advocating for the needs and welfare of the entire city, including all its citizens, schools, small and large businesses, police, fire, infrastructure, etc. What I heard last night at the task force meeting is that our city government is considering taking care of only itself by accepting a free service from a large for-profit corporation in exchange for throwing the entire rest of the city under the bus. While city government gets free high-speed fiber connectivity to many of its facilities for 30 years, Astound is going to be given free rein to reap huge profits by charging whatever it wants to everyone else in Davis. There will be no competition to control prices, no incentive to innovate, no guarantees of net neutrality or customer privacy, and no requirement that harder-to-reach areas of our city will receive any service at all. Davis will be at the mercy of one more utility monopoly.

This is just wrong on so many levels, it’s disgusting.

The proposed contract contains no language to limit the amount of the city’s conduit that will be used, thus providing the potential for Astound to use it all up and leave nothing for potential competitors or for other possible uses. The proposed contract does not include linking our schools to the free network, nor does it connect many other city facilities. The proposed contract solves an immediate need, but in doing so, ties the city’s hands into a monopoly dependency for 30 years. The proposed contract will sound the death knell to DavisGig, which is pushing for a solution that puts our city in the driver’s seat of a comprehensive, municipal fiber network that serves all our citizens while providing substantial revenue to the city.

While the city’s contract with Comcast to provide iNet services to Davis city facilities has ended, it is still available in the short term to keep these offices connected. I plead with you to authorize a new year-to-year contract with Comcast to keep this network up and running while Davis explores its options. Astound says it will cost just short of $2 million over 30 years to implement the initial fiber network using city conduit. I believe a much better decision would be to hire Astound or some other vendor to pull city-owned fiber through our existing city-owned conduit to connect all city offices, and then lease the unused portion of the fiber to Astound, its competitors, or a selected non-profit to provide high-speed connectivity to all of Davis. I believe a sound fiscal analysis of this option would show that this approach would be a windfall revenue source for our city for years to come. Believe me, Astound has run these numbers and that’s why they have made this offer to the city. Please don’t fall for it! It would be a penny wise and pound foolish choice! We don’t need another for-profit utility monopoly in this town gouging its citizens!

Crilly Butler

Davis

Comments

Colin Walsh

The chasm between City staff and the rest of Davis seems to grow wider every day.

Colin Walsh

I also see that the Astound Contract is on calendar for the next Davis City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. Will the City Council follow the staff recommendation? Given their recent track record of making decisions despite vocal public opposition, it seems like a real possibility.

Nancy Price

This is a terrible idea and must be loudly opposed for all the reasons and more stated by Crilly Butler. I am astounded that the City would even be considering this!

Maybe we should print out signs and hold them at the City Coucil meeting..
Astound-ingly Bad Idea.

See you there.

Nancy Price

Kristin Olson

Our Davis community should own our fiber network and go from there - let’s not get locked into another monopoly that just exploits us while providing poor service!

Donna Lemongello

What is advocated for here makes so much sense, I hope the City listens.

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