LOS ALTOS HILLS, Calif. – A group of homeowners in Los Altos, fed up with their local internet provider, took matters into their own hands and created their own fiber optic network. They now get speeds up to 10 gigabits per second, which is faster than what any other major internet provider is offering.
Scott Vanderlip says Comcast wanted $17,000 to install fiber optic cables he’d need to get faster internet service, but he refused to pay it. Instead, he created a coop with his neighbors to share the costs and found another company to provide service.
“We’re in Silicon Valley, Los Altos Hills. People are still on satellite or point-to-point microwaves. They’re having to live with basically the internet never arriving for them,” Vanderlip said.
Since April 2019, Los Altos Hills Community Fiber has been providing high-speed internet service to its 45 subscribers through Next Level Networks. Now, they can upload and download large files faster, and they have one of the fastest residential speeds in the country.
“So, this is a pilot project and Next Level has started rolling it out for us. They’ve actually already launched multiple other community-owned and operated fiber optic coops in Woodside…in Santa Cruz mountains…San Jose with HOAs and everything else,” he said.
Next Level Networks, which provides fiber optic internet service, was founded by Darrell Gentry. He says broadband, community-owned internet service is the wave of the future.
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“We charge a modest fee for operating the network on their behalf and we optionally the internet service provider…optionally because it’s actually an open-access architecture…multiple ISPs can actually coexist and compete over the fiber infrastructure. It doesn’t have to be us,” Gentry said.
Currently, the service in Los Altos Hills is about $155 a month, and the price decreases when more people subscribe to share the operational costs. Installation costs can range from $2000 to $13000 per home.
“We don’t want people to think that this is the example, or this is how it would look. We want this to go into communities that are mid-level, affordable communities…that’s our mission, to improve broadband and make sure there’s service everywhere possible,” said David Barron, CEO of Next Level Networks.
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Next Level Networks say they’re also in talks with an out-of-state agency to provide this service for the low-income housing units the agency builds and owns already.