Author Archives: Andrew Afflerbach



Santa Cruz Council Votes Unanimously for Fiber Public–Private Partnership

Are we seeing a new trend in broadband public-private partnerships? This week, the City Council of Santa Cruz, CA unanimously approved a partnership with a local provider, Cruzio Internet, in which the City will build, own, and maintain fiber optics that pass every home and business in town, while Cruzio lights and operates the network and provides retail services to Santa Cruz customers. The project will run fiber past each parcel of land in the City and deliver the potential for gigabit Internet service to every home and business by 2018.

I wrote earlier this year about the innovative partnership of this same model between Westminster, MD and Ting Internet—to my knowledge, the first of its kind in the U.S. As someone who spends my days thinking about, and crafting, new ways to develop fiber-to-the-premises networks, I believe the Westminster model has the greatest potential to be replicated in communities across America—because it plays so beautifully to the respective strengths of public and private sectors, and because it reflects an attractive shared risk opportunity.

Santa Cruz is the first demonstration of that replicability, as the model is substantially similar in framework to that of Westminster: public sector fiber; private sector electronics and services; and a sharing of risk that makes the opportunity more attractive for both public and private sectors.

Like Westminster, Santa Cruz is just far enough removed from a major metro area to make unlikely a purely private investment in ubiquitous fiber. Although the City is less than an hour drive from the heart of Silicon Valley, it is still cut off from the rich broadband infrastructure in the Valley—and from Google Fiber and Comcast’s tentative plans for even more. Incumbent providers in Santa Cruz have not indicated any interest in upgrading their networks to the emerging standard—fiber-to-the-premises. Frankly, absent competition, incumbents don’t have much economic incentive to upgrade.

The City’s solution is a partnership that plays to the strengths of both public and private sectors. The Council approved a shared risk/shared cost partnership with a very local—and very committed—private partner. Santa Cruz will build the $52 million network, financing the construction with bonds and leveraging its long experience with public works and utilities to focus its efforts on the fiber optic infrastructure in the public rights-of-way. Cruzio, for its part, will lease the fiber from the City and will serve as network operator and service provider, focusing on what it does best, providing great Internet and customer service to Santa Cruz homes and businesses.

The model is win-win-win—for the City, for Cruzio, and for Santa Cruz consumers. For the City, this effort is a long-term economic development program, enabled by the City’s bonding capacity. For Cruzio, the City’s efforts will enable it to move its existing Santa Cruz customers over to state-of-the-art fiber and to build its customer base in its home town.

Perhaps best of all, for Santa Cruz consumers, the partnership offers them the same high speeds Silicon Valley consumers will enjoy, provided by a local company with a history of fantastic customer service. Cruzio has been operating in the Santa Cruz area for 26 years and is one of the oldest ISPs in California—and remains locally owned and operated. The name of the company even derives from its identity as a Santa Cruz company—Cruz from Santa Cruz, and io from Input/Output.

The shared-risk model makes the partnership attractive to both parties. The City can take a long view with regard to capital—bonding over the long terms that are typical of municipal bonds (but atypical of private investments in communications infrastructure that require ROI in a handful of years). And Cruzio will share the City’s financing risk—part of Cruzio’s commitment is that it will cover 80 percent of funding shortfalls if revenues are insufficient to cover the City’s costs.

Market surveys demonstrate clear enthusiasm in the community for gigabit Internet and the open partnership model. At the Santa Cruz City Council meeting Tuesday, Economic Development Director Bonnie Lipscomb commented that “we haven’t even built the fiber network and people are excited to work with us.”

I’m proud of CTC’s role in developing this partnership. The City selected its preferred private partner and then hired us to provide systems-level engineering, cost estimation, market data analysis, financial modeling, and business model development. It was a thrill for us to be engaged in such a community-focused partnership and innovative business model—and I’m personally delighted to rack up another win for local Internet choice, following the great outcomes in Westminster, MD and Holly Springs, NC.

This week’s yes-vote is another example of the innovation we are seeing in broadband partnerships nationwide. Through the partnership with Cruzio, Santa Cruz has the power to ensure the entire community is served with fast, affordable, future-proof broadband. Huge congratulations to Santa Cruz and Cruzio—like Westminster and Ting before them—and the many projects we think are likely to build on their innovative model.

— Joanne S. Hovis, President, CTC Technology & Energy

Published: Thursday, December 10, 2015 by Andrew Afflerbach



CTC Principal Analyst Ziggy Rivkin-Fish Earns Top Credential

CTC is proud to announce its Principal Analyst and IT governance expert, Ziggy Rivkin-Fish, has been awarded the credential of Certified in Governance of Enterprise IT, which formally recognizes him as an expert in this area. Ziggy serves as an organizational management consultant and advises on how to organize sustainable and effective management of government broadband to deliver value based on local needs, as well as on options for reorganizing and streamlining IT departments and services. Ziggy has deployed these skills most recently for Harford County, Maryland and Highland Park, Illinois.

The Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT) credential is administered to candidates who complete a rigorous set of requirements and prove their competence in managing, advising, or assuring IT governance, or all of the above, in a wide variety of organizations. Professionals eligible to pursue the certification are leaders who bring IT processes in line with their organizations’ goals, act as guides on IT investments that maximize ROI, increase the efficiency of IT utilization, and minimize risk.

ISACA, the awarding organization, is a well-known, international nonprofit association that provides education, conferences, publications, and certification for IT governance professionals. ISACA defines its work as providing: “practical guidance, benchmarks, and other effective tools for all enterprises that use information systems. Through its comprehensive guidance and services, ISACA defines the roles of information systems governance, security, audit, and assurance professionals worldwide.” (More information about ISACA here.)

Congratulations to Ziggy for earning this prestigious and highly respected credential!

Published: Tuesday, November 10, 2015 by Andrew Afflerbach



State of New York Contracts CTC to Support $1 Billion Broadband Initiative

CTC is delighted to announce it has been contracted to support the State of New York with the New NY Broadband Program. In January 2015, the state announced its $1 billion “Broadband for All” initiative, which aims to make high-speed broadband accessible to every New Yorker by the end of 2018. CTC will help the state to design and structure the program, in light of existing infrastructure, areas of need, and technology options. Find more information about the State of New York’s broadband initiatives here.

Published: Friday, October 30, 2015 by Andrew Afflerbach



City of Boston Awards CTC Public Broadband Initiative Support Contract

The City of Boston has awarded CTC a contract to support a significant public broadband initiative. The City is taking the next steps in its ongoing effort to upgrade broadband connectivity to Boston Public Schools facilities and public safety sites. CTC’s engineers will develop technical criteria for the City’s procurement of dark fiber, will assist in the evaluation of vendor proposals, and will be the City’s subject matter expert on dark fiber procurement and interconnection. Read more here.

Published: Monday, October 26, 2015 by Andrew Afflerbach



CTC Helps Position Holly Springs, NC to Attract Big Private Fiber Investment Through Smart Infrastructure Planning and Best Business Practices


Autumn is here and the trees on the I-95 corridor between DC and North Carolina are lit up with fall color, so it’s almost a shame we here at CTC no longer have an excuse to hit the road to visit our client in Holly Springs, NC. But, on the plus side, we’re really happy to announce the successful outcome of a project we are proud to see come to fruition.

For four years, CTC has acted as an advisor to Holly Springs as the Town’s government designed and built a visionary fiber backbone network. CTC has also assisted the Town in developing policies and strategies to attract private broadband investment. As a result, Ting Internet, a division of Tucows, Inc., has just announced it will bring “crazy fast fiber internet” to the homes and businesses of Holly Springs.

The CTC team served as advisor to Holly Springs in the Town’s efforts to engineer and construct a backbone fiber network to connect municipal buildings, and advised the municipal government to build a network with an eye toward the future. To their great credit, Holly Springs’ visionary elected officials chose to build a fiber network with dramatically higher capabilities than the need apparent at the time, in the knowledge that a robust fiber backbone would attract interest from private ISPs that recognize the potential to leverage that backbone to build their own fiber-to-the premises infrastructure more efficiently.

We were thrilled when Ting Internet jumped on the resulting opportunity, as that company has a proven track record of bringing quality infrastructure, an excellent end product, and top-notch customer service to communities, including our good friends in Westminster, MD. Ting plans to expand on Holly Spring’s existing fiber pathways and offer symmetrical gigabit internet access to homes and businesses.

A key factor in Tucows, Inc.’s decision to invest in Holly Springs was the fact that the Town not only was willing to lease excess fiber in its backbone, but also brought best practices to bear in its willingness to work with and facilitate Tucows’ efforts. Among other things, the Town offered efficient government processes, access to information and facilities, and facilitation and support – all of which boosted Tucows’ confidence about this community as an investment opportunity.

In a written statement, Tucows, Inc. CEO Elliot Noss said, “While Google Fiber and other providers race to get started in big cities, we’re finding that there’s also a lot of interest from, and opportunity in, smaller cities and towns that might otherwise get passed over.”

CTC is proud to have helped the Town of Holly Springs position itself as the most attractive site for Ting Internet’s next investment, so crazy fast internet can bring crazy fast economic development to one of our favorite parts of North Carolina.

Joanne Hovis and Matt DeHaven

Published: Wednesday, October 21, 2015 by Andrew Afflerbach



10 Key Network Attributes to be Tested in the IP Transition

The current public switched telephone network (PSTN) provides a reliable voice connection to nearly every American. Considering how important those connections are, the move by communications carriers to replace circuit-switched technology with IP technology in their wire centers raises some important issues. The option of using IP technology in the telephone network is not a new idea, but the idea of IP technology replacing circuit-switched technology in the PSTN is—and may be subjected to numerous complications.  Some factors to consider are whether the IP interface can deliver the same call quality, call completions, and availability we have become accustomed to when we pick up the receiver.

Will an IP telephone network give the same access to 9-1-1? Is an IP telephone network vulnerable to cyberattacks? Will the service remain functional through environmental disasters?

To identify potential problems in switching to an IP network, CTC Technology & Energy proposes that the FCC should require testing before carriers are permitted to shift technologies. Specifically, we have identified 10 network attributes that should be tested:

    1. Network capacity
    2. Call quality
    3. Device interoperability
    4. Service to the deaf and disabled
    5. System availability
    6. PSAP and 9-1-1
    7. Cybersecurity
    8. Call persistence
    9. Call functionality
    10. Wireline Coverage

Furthermore, if these attributes are subject to testing, who should be involved – the FCC, the carriers, or an independent third party? Another possible solution is to have public safety, public health, and our state and local governments be involved.  Our IP Transition report addresses these needs, indicates the testing required, and identifies key players to be involved for a successful rollout.  While CTC Technology & Energy does not have a financial stake in the situation, we offer our proposal for the benefit of the public.

…read the full report here.

Published: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 by Andrew Afflerbach