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Santa Cruz, Calif., Deploys Fiber-Like Wireless Gigabit Internet Through Public-Private Partnership

The city's fiber-like wireless proof-of-concept project may very well drive the movement to municipal fiber.

From watching Netflix to building a business to conducting cutting-edge research, we don’t just need technology to be successful — we need it to be fast. That’s why the city of Santa Cruz, Calif., has recently formed a partnership that will use fiber-like wireless technology to deliver gigabit-class-level Internet speeds throughout the city.

This innovative fiber-like wireless technology makes the project, made possible through a partnership among the city, Siklu Communication Ltd. and local Internet service provider Cruzio,the first of its kind in the United States. The tech is composed of a Siklu millimeter wave radio attached to Cruzio's existing fiber.

Over a three-month period, the radios will be attached to buildings, rooftops, poles and other strategic areas on 17 key locations throughout the city, including Louden Nelson Community Center, the Tannery Arts Lofts affordable housing and City Hall. 

While the technology does not replace full fiber, it is a faster and more affordable way to offer residents a look at what gigabit speed Internet will mean for their community once fiber is eventually rolled out throughout Santa Cruz. And because the project serves as a “proof of concept” for both Siklu and Cruzio, there is no cost to the city to implement the new technology. 

This public-private partnership opportunity, says Economic Development Manager J. Guevara, is an effective way to demonstrate how cities can innovate to deliver technology services to communities everywhere.

“If you’re in a rural community and go outside our city limits, full fiber would be cost prohibitive, so this is a way to go around that," he said. "Or if you’re in a really dense urban area and there’s too many utilities in the road, this can be distributed quickly and affordably. It provides a taste of what fiber at gigabit speeds feels like for community services and government services.”

Guevara notes that while the long-term goal is to deploy full fiber throughout Santa Cruz, this project is a great first step for the city and can likely be modeled in other cities around the nation.

“I think this will be on the menu of options for cities. Every city is politically and geographically unique,” he said. “What’s important for us is this doesn’t take us off track with rolling out the Santa Cruz fiber network, but it’s a way to get those speeds affordably right now.”

So is the future for fiber in cities? Guevara thinks so, and says he's proud to launch this project as a first step.

“It is a proof of concept, but it will be one of many solutions, and complements fiber-to-the-premise or the home," he said. "It is what will drive the movement to municipal fiber.”