FTTH Trial Status
Palo Alto Community Center Fiber to the Home Trial Independent Info & News

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Sunday, March 30, 2003
A Note from the Editor:

I moved from Palo Alto to Austin, Texas in March of 2001. Because I had invested so much effort in this statuslog and the associated website, I tried to continue it's update for awhile after the move. However, other interests and demands have since caught up with me.

The PA-Fiber website has filled the void and I encourage you to use it as your primary source for news about Palo Alto's FTTH Trial:


To reach me, visit my new site PatentVentures.com

Best wishes,

Bennett Smith

Friday, April 19, 2002
Based on a Thurs, 18 April 2002 PA-ComNet post by Marvin Lee:

Subject: Meeting and discussion of Fiber to the Home (FTTH) for all of Palo Alto

There will be a meeting next Thursday evening, April 25th, at 7:10 PM in the Queenie Amerian Room in the Art Center on Newell Road. Enter the Main entrance on the library side.

We will have presentations of new innovative technologies for FTTH which are currently becoming available from Harmonics by Jonas Fjallstam, ETTx Systems Architect, and by William Bryan and Kevin Rogers from Wave 7 Optics.

Ken Poulton will present our suggestions for rolling out FTTH to our entire community based upon our experience with the FTTH trial.

The meeting is open to all. See you there.

Friday, April 12, 2002
Based on a Thurs, 12 April 2002 PA-ComNet post by Marvin Lee:

Frank's Weekly Memo

(A series by Frank Benest, Palo Alto City Manager;
the following is an excerpt;
for the entire memo, see http://www.city.palo-alto.ca.us/manager/20020412/weeklymemo.html;
for other memos or to subscribe, see the links at http://www.city.palo-alto.ca.us/manager/)

April 12, 2002

Utilities Seeks En'light'ened Response to Survey
about Community Interest in Fiber to the Home Service

Beginning next week, 5,000 randomly selected utility customers will have an easy way to give their opinion on whether the City of Palo Alto Utilities (CPAU) should expand its fiber optic "pipe" business. The special online survey, being handled by an independent research company, asks residents if they are satisfied with their current service providers, if they have a desire for "advanced" services, and what they think about CPAU entering into the residential telecommunications business. The information gathered from this Fiber to the Home survey, along with ongoing customer feedback and the results from the one-year Fiber to the Home Trial in the Community Center neighborhood, will help CPAU understand the citizens' service needs. This information will help CPAU develop a business case, and a recommendation to Council, regarding the best role for it to play in the future of telecommunications in Palo Alto.

Friday, April 05, 2002
This site was moved to a new server. If you can read this, the relocated site and blogging still works.

Tuesday, November 20, 2001
Based on a Mon, 20 Nov 2001 email by Peter Allen:

The "Palo Alto Main Library" now is connected by a wireless access point to the FTTH Trial! There is Good to Excellent reception throughout the library except for the very far corners. Even there (and outside on the patio!) you can get "Poor" 1Mbps connectivity. This rocks!

My thanks to Diane Jennings (Library Manager) and John Astoraga (CPA IT) for their permission to let me buy and install this. Thanks to Jim Holsworth for helping me configure the wireless device and map out the reception ranges. It took less than 15 minutes to hook the LinkSys WAP11 device up and to get it running.

For those of you with a wireless laptop or card, come on over and use your wireless device's Client Manager to access the "Palo Alto Main Library" wireless FTTH network. This message is sent to you via this network.

Monday, November 19, 2001
Based on a Sun, 18 Nov 2001 PA-ComNet post by Marvin Lee:

Review of the 11/13/01 Community Meeting at the Art Center:

[Ideas for encouraging expansion of Fiber to the Home to other neighborhoods in Palo Alto was an important focus at last week's meeting. Attendess included PA ComNet and PA FiberNet members and Community Center FTTH Trial Participants.]

Mark and Josh reviewed the present very successful installations of FTTH in almost all seventy homes in the trial neighborhood, and everyone from the trial present remarked on the remarkable stability and dependability of the system. Many people had minor technical difficulties getting their particular home/office system to operate correctly but over a short period of time were able to work out the kinks in their system. We now seem to have a bandwidth close to or better than Marconi and the City promised for the trial and an ISP, ViaNet, that functions well. The Heyertech support contractors, Mark and Josh, have done a remarkable job keeping everything on track and moving forward. We have now also added PAC Bell local telephone capabilities to the trial which has already demonstrated that it can operate effectively when copper based phone lines have problems. Possible satellite TV capabilities are available for the trial when the legal pathways are cleared.

In addition, many trial neighbors have developed casual neighborhood support groups which include both techies and more informed neighbors who respond to the needs of those who run into individual or unique home network problems. A short cry for help can bring help within a reasonable time and many problems are solved. Mark and Josh have provided solid support frequently beyond the call of duty as well as continuing research into more difficult problems such as problems emanating from the router essentially because these were not designed for FTTH bandwidth.

Various people at the meeting spoke enthusiastically about the need to get the message on the value of FTTH out to the community immediately. Several proposals were made to expand the trial by establishing wireless base stations in both the library and in other locations within the trial area.

As a result of these discussions, the City Staff has now selected two individual Community Center neighborhood sites for immediate effective deployment of wireless as a supplement to increase the access to the FTTH trial. Peter Allen reported that he has already used this technique to make FTTH available to his neighbor who originally signed up for the trial but later because of the high fee required by the City backed away. She now has full access to the Fiber.

It has been decided to install not only additional plugs for computer stations in the Main Library but to make available wireless from the library which will permit anyone to access the system from their own laptops from anywhere in the library or outside within 25 to thirty yards of the base station.

In addition, the City has now announced plans to create the same kinds of installations, including wireless, in the Lucie Stern Community Center which houses the City's Department of Community Service, recreation, various theater groups, including the Children's Theatre, the Boy Scouts offices, the nearby Girl Scouts and the Children's Library. These organizations were originally included in the FTTH trial. What is significant with these new developments is that with the addition of wireless it will be possible to make available access to the trial to a much larger group within the community.

Further, the City Utility Department is presently considering the possibility of establishing a community access to the FTTH trial at 250 Hamilton, the lobby of City Hall. Some of you may recall that a similar opportunity for the community was placed there when the City first created its own web site.

The whole focus of the meeting shifted, as we had intended, from technical examination of the trial to the importance of getting the message out to the rest of the community that FTTH can be of tremendous benefit both to residents of our community and to the community as a whole.

We are now planning to reactivate and expand our list of PA-Fiber.Net neighborhood coordinators (see www.PA-Fiber.Net) and encourage each of them to talk to their neighbors and begin to organize their neighbors and their blocks and streets so as to be able to effectively inform each other of the community value for having a community wide FTTH system. Most importantly it is to let them know that the City of Palo Alto will soon be seeking their thoughts on extending FTTH to the entire City.

The City FTTH Staff has already begun the work necessary to meet the City Councilís requirements for the evaluation of the trial and the recommendations they must make to the Council. They will need to have your views, those of your neighbors, and their own evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the trial and the models for possible expansion of the trial to the entire community in the hands of the Council by next summer. It is time for us to talk to our neighbors.

Your thoughts?

Monday, November 12, 2001
Based on a Sun, 11 Nov 2001 PA-FiberNet post by Marvin Lee:

The Fiber to the Home Trial for Palo Alto will be the meeting topic Tuesday evening, Nov. 13th at 7:10PM, at the Art Center Auditorium, 1313 Newell Road. (The Auditorium is adjacent to the east parking lot). The meeting is open to all interested in Fiber To The Home for Palo Alto.

This will be a meeting to discuss the successful installation of the FTTH trial in the Community Center neighborhood and a chance for you to ask all of the questions you have been waiting to ask those who are receiving the service, those who installed it, those who are maintaining it and what plans there are to add additional services and if feasible expand it to others in the neighborhood and community.

Available to answer your questions will be representatives of:

the City Utility Department (including Blake Heitzman, Manuel Topete)

Heyertech (Technical support for the trial, including Mark Heyer, Josh Wallace)


ViaNet (ISP for the Trial)

and FTTH trial participants, including representives from PA FiberNet, PA ComNet, the Main Library, the Art Center, and St. Elizabeth Seton School

Monday, October 22, 2001
Based on a Sun, 21 Oct 2001 email from Peter Allen:

So far almost everything we have seen thus far while lighting up our Trial network is common to that of any LAN starting up. There does seem to be inconistencies over VLAN and Internet site accessability related to MTU (Maximum Transfer Unit) settings for the WAN. Meanwhile, my wife is thrilled with the bandwidth to her iMac. Other folks in the Trial are fine with the FTTH connection, but in trouble over understanding and managing their own home networks. For this we have house calls from the 'nerds' and a learning experience for everyone. One of the things that we have learned is that we all have great neighbors. :)

Based on a Tue, 16 Oct 2001 PA-FiberNet post by Marvin Lee:

Several people have asked for a discussion meeting to help bring them up to speed with their new FTTH installation and to open questions about our new found bandwidth capabilities. We have arranged to use the kitchen/meeting room in the Art Center, Thursday Oct. 25, 7:10pm. Enter the usual entrance and we will be down the hall from our usual room.

Wednesday, October 10, 2001
Links of Interest, Reminders, and Recommendations:

Don't forget to stay abreast of the broader view on fiber connectivity for Palo Alto citizens at PA FIberNet's web-site: http://www.pafiber.net. In particular, I recommend their news index. Hilda Weisberg is doing a great job as web-master for that site.

David Rosenthal gets credit for the following pointer to a Northern Sweden FTTH project: http://www.acc.umu.se/~tfytbk/mattgrand/.

Anyone with a broadband connection has a responsibility to help prevent distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and needs to understand this threat. Back in June, Cindy Bickerstaff posted a pointer on PA FiberNet to an excellent site, which is worth repeating now that the trial is up and running. See: http://grc.com/dos/intro.htm.

grc.com also has a review of software firewalls at: http://grc.com/lt/scoreboard.htm. Note in particular that grc.com gives poor marks to the BlackICE Defender software, which I had discussed elsewhere on this site. For a number of reasons, I'm currently using a hardware firewall product similar to the Linksys product mentioned previously on this page.

Based on a Wed, 10 Oct 2001 email from Peter Allen:

[D. Rosenthal's 9 October post is a good one. The trial needs this kind of scrutiny. On a related note, last] night about 11:30 it took me about 1/2 minute to download an 8MB file from Microsoft. This is about a (64Mb/32seconds=) 2Mbps rate. I did this twice. While the speed was really nice, it is still half of what I expected at such a late (and hopefully quiet) hour.

[Trial participants should not hesitate to discuss and share concerns, problems, and solutions with] support@heyertech.com.

Tuesday, October 09, 2001
Based on a Tue, 9 Oct 2001 email from David Rosenthal:

[I want to expand upon and clarify the performance problems that I first described in my October 2nd note.] People I spoke with were complaining that their FTTH service was *much* slower than their cable modem or DSL service, so slow that they had given up and weren't using it. I do not know exactly what was causing this performance, but I have no reason to believe their reports were false.

If the trial is to succeed, it is important that the participants believe that they are getting good performance for the price. That's not what the people I spoke with were reporting. [Expectations of FTTH performance were set at very high levels as the technology the trial initially planned to use was incredibly fast. In contrast, while the Marconi technology the trial ended up using is fast, it is not earthshaking. In addition, cost limitations significantly limit the trial's aggregate bandwidth upstream of the head-end.] Thus it is very important that people actually get the potential performance of the Marconi technology.

My observations show that given correct configuration of the Marconi box, the Linksys router, and the network on the home side of the router it is possible to get close to the rated performance of the FTTH link. The route I have been measuring was carefully chosen - it goes from the head-end via a via.net router to PAIX and then via Stanford's PAIX gateway to one of the Stanford core routers. This is a rather short, very stable route with no bottlenecks other than the FTTH link. Installing a server at the head-end is not likely to show much difference. I did in fact measure performance to a server at via.net - it was awful. Much worse than to the Stanford network and only barely better than dial-up speed. It is not clear what caused this.

It will take some time to get everyone's configuration correct. My intent in posting my measurements was to encourage people who aren't seeing good performance to work with the Heyertech support people to investigate why. Unless they have a complete picture of how the system is performing it'll be hard for them to fix the problems. You *can* get consistent 3.5-4Mb/s transfer rates. If you aren't, tell them.

Based on a Fri, 5 Oct 2001 email from Ron Krasnow:

Update on my non-working connection ... the card and splice in my Marconi box was replaced and fixed, respectively, on Wednesday, but the connection to my home still does not work. Since the other 3 homes on my "node" are up and running, the thought by Heyertech is that the "splitter" in the street is not working properly. I was told that the city would fix that, but no date or time has been set as far as I know.

Wednesday, October 03, 2001
Based on a Tue, 3 Oct 2001 email from Peter Allen:

I myself was out of service for 10 days (once my Marconi box was installed). The problem was with the blade (card) in the Marconi equipment at the head end (the 1310 nm tranceiver was inoperative). While this was a first test of both our diagnostic as well as responsive capabilities, we should expect to learn things from a Trial, right? We have. Once this problem was solved my connection came up - so flawlessly in fact that our (English and technology challenged) Au Pair was able to make it work (in minutes) while I was on the phone with him.

As for Trial folks bummed that they can't get more than 3-4 Mbps on their downloads, this seems laughable to those folks still constrained by DSL, Cable, or (ACK!) Dialup. This is like a Porsche driver complaining that our highway are only designed for 90 MPH traffic. Yet we need to test this system - and we need to 'break' it by showing that there is demand for speeds of more than 10 Mbps. So I'm afraid that I will continue to encourage the whiners. :)

Meanwhile we should alert folks that the bandwidth that one will get from some of these external test URLs and downloads will a) not likely approach 4.5 Mbps (our worse case speed) and b) will vary each time. This is due to a) other upstream bottlenecks and b) different trace routes used each time. This is similar to three letters bound for NYC mailed on the same day, yet arriving at different times. I suggest that we get a box to stream ping at the PAIX and one within our network. I volunteer to host a Linux box for this purpose (and other tricks like Hollywood squares videoconferencing).

Based on a Tue, 3 Oct 2001 email from Ron Krasnow:

[. . . ] FTTH is not working for everyone. I've had a box for 10 days and it has never worked. There are Marconi box problems, splice problems and other problems that have not been spelled out for me (something about the head end). [. . . ] There are workers here today supposedly fixing things, but we'll see....

Based on a Tue, 2 Oct 2001 email from David Rosenthal:

[People have expressed disapointment to me regarding the performance of their FTTH connections.] I've made some measurements. FTP downloads of large files from machines at stanford.edu and mozilla.org consistently run between 3-4M bits/sec. The configuration of the network on the home side of the Marconi box can make a significant difference. Using switches I was seeing 3.6-4.2M bits/sec, using hubs I was seeing 2.8-3.4M bits/sec. These measurements were taken using a Linux client. A Windows client gave roughly the same results, but I don't have accurate measurement tools for Windows.

I did see much slower performance talking to some other sites. I am in touch with Heyertech to look into a possible misconfiguration upstream of the head-end.

The performance measurement site at MSN/Cnet consistently gave highly optimistic and seriously misleading numbers, and should not be used as a basis for comparison.

Saturday, September 29, 2001
Based on a Sat, 29 Sep 2001 email by Marvin Lee:

FYI, this evening I tried out classical music station WCPE from Wake Forest (Research Triangle) North Carolina on our new FTTH connection. We presently receive WCPE at 102.3 as a premium station on cable FM for which we pay $7 month. I had previously tried this same station (www.wcpe.org) over the Internet on our AT&T cable modem but was discouraged by the large number of musical dropouts.

We presently get very good reception on our Bose wave FM radio attached to the AT&T Broadband cable TV premium cable radio service. The question in my mind was, has the digital Internet service with FTTH reached the quality of service over the satellite delivered service we already receive?

Compared to the previous cable modem service there are virtually no drop outs in the music over the FTTH Internet service available using Quicktime. What it would be like to have our same Bose Wave radio reception as from our cable TV instead of the two tiny speakers in our iMac we really can't say. It would be interesting to compare the same signals sent over satellite and via the Internet received and played on similar radios.

When Palo Alto has its own community cable radio system capable of distributing NPR programing or comparable public service programming over cable FM public access channels as it can now on public access and educational TV (Ch 6, etc.) it will open all sorts of interesting possibilities not only for classical and jazz music but for other public service radio programming as well.

Those of you on FTTH try it out for yourself.

Based on a Thur, 27 Sep 2001 email from David Rosenthal:

[Last] Friday at 8am the crew from the Palo Alto Utilities showed up. We pulled the fiber through the conduit I earlier installed under the floor (yes, I did remember to put a string in it) and they spliced it to the pig-tail fiber inside the Marconi box. After a bit more than 2 hours I called Heyertech saying the box was getting photons. They showed up the front door about 5 minutes later, and 5 minutes later packets were flowing. Its been up ever since. I downloaded 10MB of the latest Mozilla from mozilla.org at ~3Mb/s, so it really is way fast. No question, city-owned fiber is the last mile you want.

Sunday, September 23, 2001
Based on a Sat, 22 Sep 2001 PA-ComNet post by Marvin Lee:

Yes, it is true that the trial of FTTH in Palo Alto is underway. Our home was hooked up and is working fine along with several others on Harker, Greenwood and Parkingson and hopefully over the next several days we will be looking forward to being joined by most of us in the trial area. We also look forward to [other Palo Alto residents] trying it out at the Main library when one of their computers is hooked up.

Thursday, September 20, 2001
Based on a Thur, 20 Sep 2001 email from Peter Allen:

An Introduction to Information Utilities:
The Creation of First Mile Networks as the Roads for this New Century.

Based on a Thur, 20 Sep 2001 email from Peter Allen:

[Here] is another set of pictures of Trial construction. We are so close to first light that I feel like sleeping next to the Marconi box waiting for the divine event!

Tom and Mr. Shy preparing underground home
runs on Christmas Tree Lane:

Mark and Sean in the splice truck preparing home
runs to be fused to the optical trunks:

Ken set up outdoors preparing the cable and splice trays:

Ryan and Gene complete a FTTH equipment
installation (note the PA fiber backbone map):

Marvin and Alison Lee posing with the crew during their FTTH
equipment installation:

Monday, September 17, 2001
Based on Sat, 15 Sep 2001 and Sun, 16 Sep 2001 emails by Marvin Lee and Bob Harrington:

Sites to check out related to the FTTH Trial include:




Friday, September 14, 2001
Excerpted from the September 14, 2001 "Frank's Weekly Memo" -- from Palo Alto's City Manager, Frank Benest:

[begin excerpt]
Status Report on the Main Library's Participation in the Fiber to the Home (FTTH) Trial

One of the public Internet PCs at the Main Library will be using a fiber connection to the City's fiber ring. The idea is to have a demonstration PC available for community use by people who are not participating in the Fiber to the Home Trial or living in the neighborhood.

When connected, this PC will be removed from the City's network and serviced by the City's Internet Service Provider (ISP) to operate separately from all other Library PCs. The demonstration PC will use the same ISP for Internet connectivity as the homes in the Trial and yet will still provide access to all the specialized library resources (e.g., magazine database subscriptions) as other PCs in the building.

Work has begun and the fiber has been run into the building and brought to the location of the PC. Several tasks remain to be scheduled and completed, both by the Utilities Department and then by library vendors. We'll keep you informed as the project progresses.

[end excerpt]
You can read "Frank's Weekly Memo" each week starting from: http://www.city.palo-alto.ca.us/manager/

These memos are archived at: http://www.city.palo-alto.ca.us/manager/memoarchive/index.html

Thursday, September 13, 2001
Report on the September 12th Evening Fulton Street FTTH Meeting -- courtesy of David Rosenthal:

The FTTH trial is up - the ISP (Vianet) is talking to the head-end and at least one of the customer-end boxes is live. The FTTH team expect 25% of the houses up by Monday. All participants should get e-mail in the next few days pointing to a new support website where [the install schedule for the remaining areas] should be posted.

Cost will be $85/mo for the year for 1 static IP address and minimum 4.5Mb/s up and downstream (to the head-end). Vianet is supplying a 10Mb/s pipe via one hop to PAIX (actually on gigabit ether). Local phone service should come up 9/20. Long distance still has contract issues. Digital TV still has contract issues. Analog cable TV availability unknown. Mark Heyer's company Heyertech is providing customer support for the trial.

[The following approaches for connecting home networks to the fiber drop were strongly advocated at the meeting:]

- if you have a Cat5 wired ethernet in place in your home use a PPPOE-capable router/firewall such as the Linksys BEFSR41 rather than directly connecting the Marconi box to a computer. Direct connections require installation of PPPOE software.

- if you do not already have a wired ethernet in place use 802.11b wireless networking instaed of pulling Cat5 wire to connect your Marconi box to your computers. This needs a combination router/firewall/base-station such as Linksys BEFW11S4.

[The model numbers above are believed to be accurate, but have not been confirmed.]

Report on the September 12th Morning PA-ComNet FTTH Meeting -- courtesy of Bob Moss:

The meeting began at 7:35 AM. Bob Moss spoke of the importance of FTTH to existing homes, and how much of a groundbreaking event it is to connect to 70 existing homes plus community facilities.

Blake Heitzman, Palo Alto Telecommunications Manager, Palo Alto Utilities Department, spoke of the present status of the installation. They are getting everything hooked up and connected to the Internet. Itís not likely to be a seamless operation. This is the first time there was regular staff assigned to the project. Previously they all are loaned from other tasks. Budget of $660,000 for fiber installation, hookup and operations is bare bones considering what is involved. There is another $400,000 budgeted for analysis and study of the results.

An early effort on the program was developing an RFP for services. There were 3 replies, none of which were fully responsive. Video on the system works just fine, but faces legal hurdles before it can be offered. There also are political issues on what to offer during the trial.

Mark Heyer won the customer service contract and is working with Vianet to provide ISP services, www.Heyertech.com/index.htm. There will be a user meeting tonight at 7:00 PM. He will provide customer service and response by phone and pagers, but wonít have live 24/7services because of the small size of the trial.

Josh Wallace of Heyertech said the intent is to be proactive and tell people up front what is happening and what to expect, trying to avoid surprises.

The neighborhood has been organized into 5 groups of users that will take care of local details. This meeting tonight is intended for an overview of the project.

This is a trial. There have been unanticipated events getting started, the Internet isn't up yet, and the newness of the project has raised lots of issues. The build crews are learning as they go, and the timeline is very tight. It has been a constant effort to get everything up and running, with some need for improvising as they go along.

The technical side of the operation is very impressive. Things have worked as planned. Dial tone works, but the phones arenít installed yet. Video came on at once when it was tested. Other issues have been problems, like the logistics of the cable plant. Cabinets at most homes still need to be installed and terminated. Only 18 homes have the boxes, but all of them have cables with two fibers. The Cisco switch is enabled and works. The equipment is designed such that it is a true communications operation. Turn on the switch and it works. The head end is in the UCC and is operated 24 hours/day, under surveillance, in an environmentally controlled area, with backup power and batteries. Equipment is alarmed and identifies what the problems are to a control panel. Equipment is scalable and can service up to 50,000 homes if expanded, but a different location must be found for the head end with more space if the number of homes increases much.

A much larger service area needs another site and more fiber to handle the entire area. There also could be satellite services to shorten the fiber lengths. Fiber density is 1 fiber for 4 homes.

Manuel Topete, Projects Coordinator, Telecommunications Division noted that there are several ways to scale the system and set up the topology. One is to set up cabinets or nodes for each neighborhood. Cost and lead time for fiber has dropped significantly in recent months ≠ from 54 weeks and high cost to in stock and low cost. The system design changed even as they installed the fiber. Some designs just donít work, as shown by experiences in other areas. Some suppliers are selling solutions that really donít work or donít scale well. Ours will work well and scale.

The PON system we have installed is based on proven technology and is known to scale well. Both video and voice work on the system and could be delivered with data. Data rates are 7 mbps bursting down, 4 mbps up. Rates both up and down will be higher in the future. The 1 to 4 split is very good technologically and allows going single fiber to each home, where the 1 to 32 split that is used in many areas is hard to do technologically.

The idea is to do a show trial that delivers everything on a commercial basis, and to see what the cost is and what people will pay for.

Next step is to get the service up and running with desired services. Then they will look at their cost data, and other providers cost data and architecture. They want a strong survey of customer interest both in the city at wide and among the test users. People want high speed, and often canít get it. The idea is to find out what people really want and need, and what the costs are. Then there will be a business plan developed to identify the market and services over the next year, plus the costs involved.

AT&T Broadband wonít install any more cable modem users, and have lost many of the original users. User speeds with cable modems vary widely, from 96 k to 2 meg with most common being 500 to 600 k. A wireless service will guarantee 500 k for $700/month.

Pac Bell is unreliable and uneven in service delivery. One visitor reported on problems in Mountain View getting good, reliable service.

Some people will want very high bandwidth, up to 100 mbps, but the trial isnít ready for that yet. First they want to get the initial trial up and working and see how it does. Having 100 mbps capacity in the home doesnít get that speed to the Internet, just to the headend.

The first users will be turned on this week or next week,but the date is not firm yet.

The main library on Newell is being connected presently. They wanted a common public station, but it isnít possible due to security requirements. There will be 1 pair of fibers to the library, which will install a new router for added services. The idea is to have a demonstration PC available for community use by people who are not participating in the Fiber to the Home Trial or living in the neighborhood.

When connected, this PC will be removed from the City's network and serviced by the City's Internet Service Provider (ISP) to operate separately from all other Library PCs. The demonstration PC will use the same ISP for Internet connectivity as the homes in the Trial and yet will still provide access to all the specialized library resources (e.g., magazine database subscriptions) as other PCs in the building.

Work has begun and the fiber has been run into the building and brought to the location of the PC. Several tasks remain to be scheduled and completed, both by the Utilities Department and then by library vendors.

Connection from the fiber ring to Walter Hayes School is on hold because there doesnít seem to be a clear line of authority or interest at the school or a clear agreement as to what will be provided. Right now fiber to Walter Hays is on hold. However, Fiber is being run to St. Elizabeth Seton School on Channing as part of the trial.

AT&T Broadband had no interest in the trial. The City will eventually be able to build out a fiber system much faster than a commercial supplier if they decide to go ahead. The intent is to provide a wide range of services to the community.

Pricing is proposed at $85/month but with no up-front payments. This will provide local phone service and data service including the ISP. Bills for FTTH with or without phone service probably will be separate, not part of the utility bill. Actual price hasnít been set yet.

Meeting adjourned at 8:40

Friday, September 07, 2001
Based on a Fri, 7 Sep 2001 email by Bob Harrington:

Dear Fulton FTTH Participants and Friends, our Fiber to the Home Trial is finally about to go live.

Please attend a FTTH Information Meeting scheduled for this coming Wednesday, September 12th at 7:10 PM, [Palo Alto Art Center (1313 Newell Road), Queene Amerian Meeting Room.] [Please note the corrected time above.]

Available for our questions will be City of Palo Alto Utilities Staff and Mark Heyer of Heyertech, one of the FTTH suppliers. They will discuss progress and prospects for turning on the FTTH trial in the next several days. Bring your questions, the City Staff and contractor will have answers.

In this meeting we will begin the process of forming small sub-area support groups and plan for additional neighborhood meetings to provide a sounding board and information for those involved in the trial.

Regarding progress on Fulton Street, fiber has been pulled under the street and at least into our sidewalk vaults. My home (but I don't think too many others) has fiber pulled from the vault to my garage. Still to come is the CPAU crew to install the Marconi Fiber Converter box on my garage wall, then I will use CAT5 wire to connect this Converter Internet outlet to my home computer.

Also available on the Converter (I think) are 3 telephone line connections and 2 television system connections. I'll decide whether or not to connect these services later when I learn what is available.

Thursday, September 06, 2001
Based on a Thu, 6 Sep 2001 PA-Comnet.org/PA-Fiber.net Mailing List Post by Ewout Mante:

This morning the City of Palo Alto crew (Ryan & Gene Lindsay) installed the Marconi unit at our place. Once more they did a tidy job. Given my professional interest, I hung around[, took the pictures below,] and asked many questions.

[I've heard] that the first 10 homes may be lit soon.

Inside the Marconi unit:

Ready to splice:

Fiber splicing tool:

0.01 dB loss -- not bad:

Closeup of the Marconi unit:

Ready to light the fiber:

From Bob Moss, as relayed by a Thu, 6 Sep 2001 PA-Comnet.org/PA-Fiber.net Mailing List Post by Marvin Lee:

PA-ComNet Meeting
Wednesday, September 12, 7:30AM
Meeting Room, Terman Park Library, 661 Arastradero Rd.

Topic: Palo Alto FTTH Project

The FTTH project comes to fruition this month after almost 4 years of effort. The City will complete installation and setup in a few days. Staff from the Utility Department will present a report on the installation, and plans for the trial program. This is one of the first connections of fiber directly to existing homes on a significant scale ≠ 70 homes plus public facilities including an elementary school, the main library, and other public facilities. Most others have been in new single-family developments or multifamily buildings.

Blake Heitzman and Manuel Topete of CPAU will discuss the program, current status, and plans for the short and longer term of the FTTH trial. This should be a very interesting discussion.

Friday, August 17, 2001
Based on a Fri, 17 Aug 2001 email note from Michael Eager:

The utility department has received the FTTH communication equipment and anticipates installation and first test connections at the end of the month. They are finalizing the contract for ISP service and this should be in place shortly. Providers for video and telephone service are still being investigated.

[Although not yet functional, a] number of the homes in the trial area [now have fiber service drops], particularly the homes which receive utility service from poles in front of the house. [Fiber service drops] to homes with utility poles in the rear of the house and those with underground service is proceeding.

Thursday, August 02, 2001
Based on a Wed, 1 Aug 2001 PA-Fiber.net Mailing List Post by Marvin Lee (and revised 8/4):

[I've been told the following:]

City crews will be working next in the area with backyard poles on the east side of Newell in the Community Center neighborhood between Embarcadero and Stanley Way. Their last section will be the underground area across Embarcadero on and around Fulton to Seale.

The Staff should begin evaluating the bids on the RFP for ISP, telephone and video service today and have their recommendation by the first of the week. Bidders include Pac Bell, Heyertech and Stream 21. We won't know what any of the bids offer until the Staff makes them public.

[Revised 8/4:] Once an agreement is reached with the voice and data service providers, the Marconi equipment necessary to complete the system will ship from Dallas. While subject to review in an upcoming meeting on 8/8, the shipment is likely at least a week or more out. Once received, the installation should begin ASAP. The City staff is optimistic about lighting up the fiber glass in August.

Friday, July 20, 2001
The Official City of Palo Alto Utilities (CPAU) Fiber to the Home Site has been completely revamped! Lots of great info, drawings, and photos. Keep up the good work CPAU!

See http://www.cpau.com/fth/

Wednesday, July 18, 2001
From Tomm Marshall of the City of Palo Alto Utilities, as relayed by a Wed, 18 Jul 2001 PA-Comnet.org/PA-Fiber.net Mailing List Post by Marvin Lee:

[In response to an inquiry about home interface boxes:] There are no boxes that can be installed on the exterior of the home. The interface boxes must be installed on the inside and there has been no change in the size of the device.

Fiber fusing will be completed in the boxes at the base of the poles as soon as the all the fiber is installed so that we do not have to go out and open the boxes and splice enclosures multiple times.

As far as the delivery of the interface boxes, the delivery is dependant upon the signing of the ISP, telephony, and video service contracts. As you know these will be evaluated later this month and we hope to be able to complete them by the middle of August. This would make the completion of the system unlikely for the end of August due to the time it takes to install the devices. But we are still hopeful that some the services could be lit by the end of August.

Notes on network installers and network wiring by Bennett Smith:

The builder of the new home I bought selected the network cable installer before I was involved and the quality of work was decidedly uneven. I've inspected all of the connectors and ended up redoing several, either because they only wired two out of the four cable pairs (many users/applications/configurations only need two-pair half-duplex), they wired the wrong cable pairs, or they damaged the insulation when they stripped the sheath and thus created the posibility of latent short-circuit problems.

Depending on how you want things wired, as long as you're spending the money for a (hopefully competent) professional installation, you also might consider having two CAT5 cables dropped per room, and/or having additional phone lines and TV coax dropped with the CAT5. For a variety of reasons it is considered a professional no-no to share phone and data in the same CAT5 sheath (although in hard to retrofit rooms I have done so for several months now without apparent ill effect). As I understand it, the advisory against "sheath-sharing" exists because: strictly speaking the drop would no longer comply with 100Mbps standards (because they include support for 4-pair full-duplex), future users will be confused/mislead by the non-standard wiring, and there is the potential for data errors (or worse?) due to the crosstalk from the 90V 20Hz ringing voltage. If anyone has any calculations or measurements to show what the magnitude of the crosstalk might be, or has any knowledge of actual problems encountered due to such non-standard wiring, I would be interested.

If you are doing a centralized (home run) wiring cabinet with a hub, be sure someone thinks through how you are going to power the hub, and whether or not you want the hub on a UPS. If the cabinet is also going to be a home run center for cable TV, you also may need to power a distribution amplifier, although my cable installer sent the amp power over one of the room drops from a remote wall-blob. In my home they used one central cabinet for data, cable TV, and phone. Be sure the cabinet is sized so that everything (the hub, the amp, the cable splitters, the patch panels for data, and the phone distribution block) can fit behind the closed panel door.

If you want to do the network connector work yourself, be aware that you can end up shelling out a bit of money on tools and equipment. The stripping and crimping tool for the RJ-45 connector may cost you $25 for starters. Some wall jacks and patch panels require a special "puchdown" tool ($20-$75). Naturally, the most common puchdown tool for network wiring (a 110-punchdown) is different from the most common puchdown tool for phone wiring (a 66-puchdown), so if you do both the phone and LAN wiring you'll need two tools or one with an interchangable blade. Depending on how many drops you wire, you may also want a "fox-and-hound" signal tracer ($50-$75), and an end-to-end cable tester ($75).

In the do-it-yourself trivia department: you must use solid-conductor CAT5 cable ($40 for a 100-meter roll -- the smallest I could find) for anything that uses punchdowns, which generally corresponds to permanent and semi-permanent wiring, such as the runs between jacks and patch panels. If you buy pre-assembled LAN cables with attached RJ-45 connectors, they are stranded-conductor and the cable won't work reliably for punchdown use. However, you should use stranded-conductor CAT5 cable for patch cords and applications where the cables may be reconfigured frequently, because the solid-conductor cable fatiques easily and conductor breakage will result. Should your configuration call for RJ-45 connectors on the solid-conductor cable, be forewarned that the RJ-45 connectors for solid-conductor cable are subtley different that those used for stranded-conductor cable.

Marvin had previously suggested the following network connector link: http://www.stg.brown.edu/~sjd/wiring/CAT5-wiring.html

I've found the following network connector certification site useful: http://www.cableu.net/uncleted/unclet04.htm

A useful site with cabinets, patch panels, and wall plates is: http://www.levitonvoicedata.com/

From Wed, 18 Jul 2001 PA-Comnet.org Mailing List Post by Ken Poulton:

If you are having network wiring done, get a [qualified] network installer, not [just any] electrician. Electricians are used to wrestling 15 amp wires through walls with any force necessary. If the circuit tests at DC, they are done. But fiber and CAT5 runs require a much lighter touch and a DC test may not show CAT5 damage. Network installers know how to handle this properly so that it will work reliably when you need to to go at 100 or 1000 Mb/s.

Tuesday, July 17, 2001
From Tue, 17 Jul 2001 PA-Comnet.org/PA-Fiber.net Mailing List Post (revised) by Marvin Lee:

Today pole crews were working on Newell between Greenwood and Harker and installers were working on Harker. There is a lot of fiber hanging on the poles in loops. I have yet to see anyone fusing fiber on the poles or in the medium size cement in the ground boxes they have installed near some poles.

One electrician stopped me on the street today and told me that they were getting a lot of calls from people eager to prepare their houses for the city crews. Anyone needing [a qualified network cable installer] for preparing their home for FTTH contact either me or Bob Harrington or ask your neighbor for their suggestions. Several people have already prepared their homes for FTTH.

Friday, July 13, 2001
The following pictures of the build of the City of Palo Alto Utilities FTTH Trial are courtesy of Peter Allen. Peter reports that the pictures "were taken in June and July. They are of the carrier tube installation, 144 trunk fiber installations, and the two fiber home run installations on the poles. I now have several coils of fiber hanging inside of my basement awaiting equipment. I anticipate a great August."

Wednesday, July 11, 2001
From Wed, 11 Jul 2001 PA-Comnet.org/PA-Fiber.net Mailing List Post by Marvin Lee:

City crews have begun installing two strand single mode Fiber to the homes on Hopkins, the street next to the tennis courts and swimming pool at Rinconada Park in the Community Center trial area.

So far they are hanging coiled Fiber on the outside of the homes with plans to install the connection boxes in the garages later. FTTH is starting to become reality in Palo Alto. Anyone want to confirm that Fiber is already to their house?

From Wed, 11 Jul 2001 PA-Comnet.org/PA-Fiber.net Mailing List Post by Ewout Mante:

Glass is in the house right where Marconi's PON box will go. Installed this morning. City crew did a very tidy job!

Wednesday, June 27, 2001
The utility crews are out on Hopkins Ave. today installing the home run cables from Corning. What a glorious day! Its been a bit over three years since I was infected with this Optical bug. I can't wait for things to get lit up (next month?). The crews are really nice folks and love doing this groundbreaking utility work. I suppose the real work (and fun!) begins next month. I've already had two immediate neighbors beg to be included in this trial, but signups are closed for now. It seems that no one considers this a technology trial. This is a business trial, and the initial numbers are encouraging. The roads for the next century will indeed be paved with fiber optics.

Tuesday, June 26, 2001
From Tues, 26 Jun 2001 PA-Comnet.org/PA-Fiber.net Mailing List Post by Marvin Lee:

A City crew has been installing fiber on the poles on Parkinson one block north of Rinconada Park all day.

Wednesday, June 20, 2001
From Wed, 13 Jun 2001 PA-Comnet.org/PA-Fiber.net Mailing List Post by Marvin Lee:

FTTH cables are being pulled into carriers on poles in the trial area. Currently the trucks and workers are at the corner of Harker and Harriet.

From Mon, 4 Jun 2001 Post by Marvin Lee:

According to the latest report from the City staff they will begin installing to the homes this week and they expect to have the system up and operating by the 1st of August. There are delays in equipment which is holding up the process. But bringing the Fiber to the homes should begin this week. They will get to my house the following week. As I understand it, there will be 144 Fibers from the Fiber ring, 44 Fibers to Community Center sub areas and two Fibers to each home.

Last week I had an electrician in to run CAT5e wiring from the City's intended Fiber switch box in my garage to my computer and 2 coax, 2 CAT5e, and 2 telephone lines in one bundled cable from the City's intended site of their Fiber switch box to near my cable and telephone connection or boxes. All that has to be done now is for the City crews to bring Fiber to the house and then to hook it to their main system.

From Thu, 10 May 2001 PA-Fiber.net Mailing List Post by Marvin Lee:

As I understand it there are three Trunk lines in the trial area. The City is now completing the installation of the fiber optic carriers visible as large lines below the electrical lines at the top of the poles.

The City crews are now installing in the carriers on Truck 1, on Harriet and Hopkins, the fiber optic cable containing 144 fibers. They will then move on to trunks 2 an 3 in the trial area.

The next step will be to deliver 2 fibers from the trunk lines to each of the 70 homes signed up for the trial.

Is your home ready? These guys are moving right along.

From Mon, 30 Apr 2001 PA-Comnet.org/PA-Fiber.net Mailing List Post by Marvin Lee:

The City has installed much of the carrier cable and replaced a few weak poles in the trial area. The carrier cable is plainly visible on the poles in the Community Center area below the electrical service lines at the top of the pole.

They have also scheduled appointments with FTTH customers to locate placement in their garages or similar indoor locations near a power source for a City Fiber connections box. My guess is that they have completed about a third or more of those FTTH house surveys.

The Staff has also encouraged all FTTH trial participants to install in their homes the CAT 5e wiring to their computers and where and if appropriate to have connections available for telephone and TV hook ups.

The City Staff is in the process of sending out another letter to those people in the trial area they have not heard from so that in the event they are no longer interested in obtaining FTTH the City Staff may choose replacements for the trial from others in the area who would now be interested in participating in the trial.

I have been told that the June date, which is when the City Staff thought that they would have the installation complete, has now been put forward about a month due to delays in delivery of necessary equipment.

We are still waiting to hear from the Staff the options available to people in the trial area such as 10 Mbps and 100 Mbps service, the choice of an ISP and if appropriate other service providers.

From Sat, 21 Apr 2001 PA-Fiber.net Mailing List Post by Marvin Lee:

The City Utility Department is currently scheduling appointments with FTTH trial signup homes to locate an in-house site for installation of their Fiber connection.

As the City Staff requested at our meeting the other evening, I am in the process of hiring an electrician experienced with FTTH to install Cat.5e and a new breaker switch and outlet in my garage. He will also be looking at potential hook ups for coax TV and telephone.

I have an appointment with the City staff midweek to show them a preferred location in my garage for their equipment and my tie-in.

From Fri, 6 Apr 2001 PA-Comnet.org/PA-Fiber.net Mailing List Post by Marvin Lee:

Several people have asked for information about the meeting with the City Utility Department Staff the other evening. It was a very interesting and lively meeting with Leo Creger, Telecommunications Manager and Manuel Topete, FTTH Project Director, providing the information and leading the discussions. They have promised to post information on their FTTH web site. However here is my take on what they are at present planning. Perhaps others might care to comment as well.

The City Utility Department Staff is now considering using the Marconi passive optical network (PON) design to deliver 20 Mbs split between 4 homes in the trial area with a projected 6.4 Mbs per home service to support data, video and telephone via FTTH.

The staff's previously announced plan to offer 100 Mbs delivered with two fibers per home apparently ran into technical problems with video and the City Staff is convinced that a combination of data, video and telephone offered by independent providers over the City FTTH net will give the FTTH trial its best chance for both technical and financial success.

So far no effort has been made to determine how many people are interested in using all three services. Presumably that will be one aspect of the trial itself. For those in the FTTH trial area who may still want 100 MBS service the City will offer to provide a special hookup with special fees. For trial participants the City will provide hook up in their garages and the homeowners should wire their homes now to use the service which the City Staff plan to have available by June.

There were quite a few questions about the adequacies of a PON system for future upgrade to higher bandwidth. It is clear that that discussion will be of continuing interest to many.

The City has not yet chosen an ISP but are currently considering several options.