Lit San Leandro: Connecting Community Through Fiber Optics
Lit San Leandro’s (“LitSL”) fiber optic infrastructure has quietly ignited multiple successful opportunities to attract investment to San Leandro. Real estate, businesses, schools, and other public facilities are connecting and bringing in millions of dollars in new investments. New applications for using the fiber are being introduced to the City, applications that hold the promise of improved services at lower costs. This includes the previously unimaginable opportunity to scale the adoption of solar throughout San Leandro, potentially enabling the City to meet — and beat — citywide greenhouse gas reduction goals identified in the City’s 2009 Climate Action Plan.
Change is not new to this City. Prior generations witnessed San Leandro’s transformation from an agrarian to an industrial economy through the arrival of railroads. The advent of cars gave rise to paved roads and freeways, enabling the separation of home and workplace and the creation of suburbs.
San Leandro is no longer a suburban city. It is an urban City whose leadership is taking advantage of the fiber optic opportunity that Dr. Patrick Kennedy, Founder and CEO of OSIsoft, brought to this City several years ago.
Highlights of fiber optic activities since 2012 include:
- Connection to San Leandro businesses: 238 businesses are connected to the internet via LitSL. This includes including 90 customers at The Gate, located on the 2nd floor of the Westgate Shopping Center Shopping Center. Approved internet service providers to LitSL include Crosslink Networks, Paxio and Unwired.
- Broadband Forgivable Loan Program: The City provides matching funds (in the form of a forgivable loan) of up to $10,000 to reduce the cost of connecting a commercial or industrial building to broadband infrastructure. Since the program’s inception in 2012, $82,501 of broadband loans have been disbursed to a range of organizations that include the Boys and Girls Club on Marina Blvd. and the Northpoint Business Park on Bigge St.
- EDA conduit expansion: In partnership with LitSL and a $2.12 million matching grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the City expanded high speed communication infrastructure into under served industrial areas of the City, primarily the Adams Tract, Catalina/Farallon area (including the Marina), and the southern Alvarado corridor (“A” through “I” on map, below). Favorable bidding on the contract will enable the City to expand the fiber optic loop several more miles past the original 7.5 mile project (“J” through “N” on the map, below). “J” and “K” expansions are complete, and will enable the City Hall to connect to Lit San Leandro’s 10 gbps speeds by the end of this summer. Completion of “L” through “N” will be subject to construction bids coming in low enough to complete the entire expansion. Construction of the final expansion is anticipated to be complete in late 2017. San Leandro Dark Fiber (fiber-owning sister company to Lit San Leandro) has completed fiber pull through the Adam’s Tract, while Catalina/Farallon and Alvarado corridor are in various stages of completion.
- The San Leandro Unified School District is in the final stages of connecting all 17 school sites to the internet via a 10 gbps fiber optic connection. The project is scheduled to be completed by the start of 2016-17 school year. Internal SLUSD telecommunications systems have been upgraded and the District is prepared to upgrade internet connection speeds to 40 gbps as needed.
- The City kicked off its first free public wi-fi hotspot in Downtown San Leandro in 2015.
- ZipPower: The proposed development of a San Leandro citywide, distributed renewable energy micro grid under the guidance of ZipPower LLC will be a data-rich, “internet of things” renewable energy system requiring a fiber optic backbone to transport data. The site of the first renewable energy micro grid is anticipated to be developed in the San Leandro Tech Campus. Enel Green Power, a subsidiary of Enel, Italy’s largest utility company, will build and finance the Tech Campus micro grid. A detailed presentation of the evolving ZipPower program will be presented to the City Council on July 18th.
What Is Next?
The City and its partners have made significant progress in implementing the recommendations made by Tellus Ventures Associates in its report to the City Council, San Leandro Commercial Broadband Strategy. The report was approved by the Council in July 2012.
In May 2016, the City Council discussed the possibility of an updated and expanded broadband strategy due to significant advances in gigabit technology since 2012. The subject has been referred to the Council’s Facilities and Transportation Committee for further discussion, likely to be scheduled for this September.