San José Partners With Facebook on Accessible, Gigabit Internet

San José, California

San José, California


Connecting state and local government leaders

Did California’s aspiring “Demonstration City” discover a better model for universal broadband access?

Gigabit-speed broadband internet is coming to downtown San José in late 2016 through a public-private partnership with Facebook to test its new wireless distribution network.

This isn’t the city’s first foray into outdoor, public internet access, having first entered into a public private partnership for high-speed service downtown in 2013. In fact, the social network chose the capital of Silicon Valley because of its existing free Wi-Fi infrastructure.

Deploying Facebook’s Terragraph wireless system plays into San José’s recently released Smart City Vision, one goal of which is to become the “Demonstration City” where the private sector co-creates with local government. Another goal is to be the most nation’s most innovative city by 2020.

“Cities worldwide are searching for ways to ensure that all residents can enjoy the benefits of Internet connectivity by broadening access to fast and affordable broadband service,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo in Wednesday’s announcement. “San José is proud to work with a global tech leader like Facebook to pilot a next-generation technology that can help us achieve these goals and support research to support communities around the world.”

The city will make streetlights and other infrastructure available to scale the network, while Facebook provides the necessary hardware and software. Terragraph will connect high-speed fiber between distribution nodes throughout downtown and rely on the cloud for intensive data processing to remain cost effective.

A Terragraph four sector distribution node and Terragraph prototype node (Facebook)

“Challenges attaining fast, reliable wireless Internet can be found anywhere, even in the heart of Silicon Valley,” said Tim Danford, Facebook’s network deployment product lead, in a statement. “Terragraph is a Facebook Connectivity Lab project that seeks to bring fast, reliable and inexpensive connectivity to dense urban areas and we are excited to have the City of San José as our first partner to showcase this technology later this year.”

Urban deployment of Terragraph network (Facebook)

While the city’s downtown core is the focus of the research project, future deployments in underserved neighborhoods and along transit corridors are being explored.

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Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty.

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