last mile capacity [was Re: QOS or more bandwidth]

Irwin Lazar <> writes

In our
area, we're also seeing a lot of pushback against the continued tearing up
of streets to lay additional fiber, so QoS may become the only option to
meet required service levels.

The correct way of solving this was demonstrated in Stockholm
and duplicated in a handful of Canadian cities. In the first case,
the City of Stockholm "nationalized" the laying down of dark fibre
in the city, and formed an agency (Stokab - Stokab) which
provides unlit/unrepeated/unamplified dark fibre between any pair
of addresses in Stockholm at cost as a public utility.

Thus, instead of a dozen or so CLEC-style companies ripping
up the same set of streets, Stokab does it approximately once,
and provides fibre pairs as necessary to these companies,
and any other buyers who come along (lots of corporate buyers
use Stokab instead of the traditional telcos or CLECs).

This approach has been an unqualified success for Stockholm,
which thanks in large part to Stokab's establishment in 1994,
has been *the* intersting place to do Internet stuff through most of
the years since then, despite the city's geographical remoteness
and small population.

The major drawback of existing dark fibre utility agencies is
their management's tendency to try to be innovative - Stokab for
example sometimes appears (misguidedly!) to want to move up the
value chain into services their buyers are offering, and into new
experimental things involving media other than fibre (e.g. radio).
If a single "nationalized" supplier of dark fibre slows down or
becomes more expensive as a result of this, it will cease
to be a market-enabling success, and start to look like the
sort of constraint on the last-mile market that former PTTs
are imposing on their captive market. (And then yeah you're
back to digging up more streets or using QoS or whatever, sigh.)

So, a good idea is to press your local government into duplicating
Stokab (it really IS good for you), but stop your local equivalent
from ever hiring someone with a bell-shaped-head or technology fetish.


Stockholm also has the advantage of being built on top of a large network
of underground tunnels and passageways. STOKAB uses these which also means
they most of the time doesn't have to rip up the streets at all. There are
also plenty of other ducting around, and a lot of the time, when other
piping is being done (heating, cooling etc) others ducts are put in place
at the same time, by virtue of the municipalities having to know about all
ducting being done on "their" turf.

There are plenty of other cities and municipalities in Sweden going the
STOKAB way, Malm´┐Ż (third largest city in Sweden) taking an initiative half
a year ago and are now starting to deliver fibers to people who want to
rent. They have access to the power companys ducting so they also do not
have to dig up the streets really, a lot of the ducting being in place

Basically, if I want a fiber in Stockholm I call STOKAB, I tell them
adresses, if I want to I can tell them exact floor and location in the
building and they will for an additional fee put up an ODF with my
connection anywhere I want at both ends. This usually takes between 4 and
14 weeks depending on whether they're present close to my both locations
(in the same block) or whether they have to do more advanced work. The
installation fee might be different depending on digging and how
interested they are in establishing themselves in my block. Most of the
time they're already present in the immediate neighbourhood anyway, so
installation fees are usually in the few $1k range, and the rent cost of
fiber are around $100-150 per km fiber (pair) and month.

At least some US cities are following the lead of Stockholm.
Palo Alto, CA is one example. Others exist. The common thread
seems to be city-owned/operated monopolies for water/electricity/etc
-- so they can reduce install cost by just laying fibre whenever
they are already trenching for electricity/water/etc maintenance.