Santa Cruz, CA Unleashes Innovative Public-Private Broadband Partnership

Santa Cruz wave

Last week, Santa Cruz, California provided yet another example of the innovative public private broadband partnerships available when local Internet choice has free rein. The City of Santa Cruz will partner with a long-time, local Internet service provider, Cruzio Internet, in a broadband project where the City will build, own and maintain the fiber optics that will pass every home and business in town, while Cruzio will light, operate and provide retail gigabit services to Santa Cruz customers.

Santa Cruz pushed for its innovative, shared-risk model once concluding that the local incumbent providers were not interested in upgrading to a fiber-to-the-home standard. The community, while less than an hour’s drive from the heart of Silicon Valley, was just far enough removed from a major metropolitan area to make a purely private fiber investment from Google or Comcast impossible. After evaluating its options, the City found a model that played to the strengths of everyone involved. The City would leverage its mature experience with public works and utility construction and its bonding authority, to construct the $52 million network. It would then rely on one of the oldest Internet service providers in the state, Cruzio, to bring its 26 years of high ranking customer service to play over next generation gigabit Internet service to the community. Cruzio will share the City’s financing risk by covering 80 percent of any funding shortfalls if revenues fail to cover the City’s costs.

CLIC believes that the City’s yes vote on this public private partnership is yet another example of the wave of innovation we are seeing in broadband partnerships nationwide. It was a vote for local self reliance and a vote for the endless possibilities when a community has the freedom to make its own local net choices.

(photo credit to Patrick Bremser)