Board Moves Forward on Fiber Broadband Project


RANCHO SANTA FE ASSOCIATION BOARD – On Thursday morning, the Rancho Santa Fe Association Board of Directors gave an overview of the recently completed Fiber Optic Feasibility Study funded by RSF residents Fred Luddy, Eoin O’Shea, and Todd Mikles and conducted by one of the nation’s leading fiber optic consultants, Magellan Advisors. A new fiber optic network would boost cable, internet and phone service speeds throughout the Covenant. As part of the study, online and offline surveys were sent to RSF residents. In all, over 500 people responded.

Here’s what residents had to say about internet service in Rancho Santa Fe:

  • Over 80% of residents believe broadband internet is critical
  • 97% of residents currently have some form of internet access at their home
  • Current internet service was given an average rating of 1.9 out of 5 – with 1 being unsatisfactory and 5 being excellent
  • 48% have home-based businesses, most of which use the internet to telecommute

Currently, many Rancho Santa Fe residents experience slow internet connectivity and poor cell phone reception. The plan in front of the Board would authorize the Association to fund and build a fiber optic network that would run through the Ranch, providing fast broadband service.

Ownership of the fiber optic network would allow the Association to gain a return on investment by partnering with internet service providers who would pay to use the fiber optic infrastructure via a lease. The Board now has to decide which type of implementation model would work best for the community.

One option would have the Association fund the project to the build out stage while also requiring  them to finance the whole $14 million dollar project. The second option would have the Association grant entitlements to a qualified developer to complete the project. This would be a ‘no risk’ option for the Association, while still giving them ownership level control over the infrastructure.

“The world is going this way” said Philip Wilkinson, chair of the Wireless Broadband Committee. “Fast, reliable broadband is crucial to this community.”

A community-owned fiber optic network would be able to provide broadband speeds that are 100-1000 times faster than current services across the community like AT&T’s U-Verse. The project would also have a number of different affects on the Ranch: much faster Internet speeds, better cell phone coverage, and increased home values.

This project comes in contrast to previous plans by outside major service providers which would have had the Association foot the bill, but the major provider would still maintain ownership of the infrastructure.

“It goes to show the point of being held hostage by large companies who really don’t care,” said Association Treasurer Kim Eggleston. “In this case [the Association] controls everything.”

After discussion with staff and residents, the Board unanimously approved a motion to allocate funds to engage with Magellan Advisors to complete the next phase of the covenant broadband plan, pending finance committee approval.

Board President Ann Boon ended the discussion by thanking Ranch residents Fred Luddy, John Ryan, Mike Licosati, Alex Kaiser and Eoin O’Shea for their integral role in moving the plan forward.