The South Bay Fiber Network
The South Bay Fiber Network (SBFN) is an award-winning, fiber-optic network developed by the South Bay Cities Council of Governments (SBCCOG). It provides the critical infrastructure to enable high-speed, low-cost internet connectivity for South Bay cities to boldly step into the world of “smart city” applications.
The SBFN was made possible through a 15-city municipal partnership forged by the SBCCOG. Its broadband infrastructure provides an essential public asset and resource to city governments, which creates opportunities to bridge the “digital divide” in communities underserved with broadband. It also lays the groundwork to eventually extend a low-cost comprehensive network to residents and businesses throughout the Southwest Los Angeles region.
The network’s completed Phase 1 is a middle mile, fiber-optic ring. Subscriptions provide 1 Gigabyte (GB) service to all 15 South Bay cities. Through lateral service it connects various municipal buildings and public agency sites to the network. Its initial phase also provides broadband service to public agencies, including Beach Cities Health District, Lundquist Institute for Biomedical Innovation, seven South Bay Work Force Investment Board offices, Metro, South Bay Regional Public Communications Authority, and the LA County Department of Public Works. Through the fiber ring, agencies on the network have resilient access to the web through connections to two different world-class data centers in El Segundo and Hawthorne.
Through a competitive bid process, in 2019 the SBCCOG awarded a contract to American Dark Fiber, (ADF) to create the network, leasing existing lines, and constructing new lines where there are gaps. Gardena-based HP Communications is completing the physical construction of the network, while Race Communications (a subcontractor of ADF) is providing the fiber-optic electronic equipment and customer service as the SBFN’s internet service provider. Current service levels are 1, 2 and 10 GB, with capacity to scale up to and beyond 100 GB in the future.
As lead agency for the SBFN’s innovative private, public partnership (PPP), the SBCCOG continues to serve three key roles:
- to provide direction, coordination, and operational guidance and management services to SBFN subscribers in support of network expansion;
- address or mitigate digital inequities to under-served areas of the subregion; and
- develop applications that municipalities might implement using the SBFN’s broadband capacity.
Construction of the SBFN began just as the COVID-19 lockdowns occurred. Deemed “essential” work, the ring was completed, and full bi-directional service began in August 2020. To date, more than 40 different circuits are operational on the SBFN.
Through an innovative collaboration, the SBCCOG funded the capital costs of the SBFN through use of $6.9 million in Los Angeles Metro Measure M subregional transportation improvement funds. Use of the funding for IT infrastructure was a creative application of these public funds, which previously were typically targeted for road improvements. The concept reimagined transportation funds in support of broadband infrastructure and “transportation nexus” applications. Such applications could be available using the SBFN, including transitions to telework through COVID-19 and beyond, and the evolution to “smart city halls,” which can provide virtual municipal services and interactive distance learning to residents, with outcomes of reduced traffic and greenhouse gas emissions through “trips not taken.”
Additional Potential Applications
The network is also designed to provide a platform for the following examples of other current and future “smart city applications.”
- Improved Traffic Management – Real-time traffic information from LA County’s Information Exchange Network (IEN) will be available for each participating agency. In partnership with Metro’s Regional Integration of Intelligent Transportation Systems (RIITS), South Bay cities can combine and share transportation data as a resource for congestion management, improved transit services, and support of transportation demand management (TDM) programs.
- Future Autonomous Vehicle (AV) Support – High speed and resilient broadband capacity will be necessary for vehicle-to-network and vehicle-to-vehicle communications for a safe and reliable AV transportation system.
- Telehealth and Telemedicine Opportunities – Applications include remote diagnostics, video appointments, transmission of large files, such as MRIs, scans, etc.
Additional benefits of low-cost broadband to participating agencies include the following:
- Greater resiliency for IT services, useful for emergency preparedness and data back up
- Efficient use of cloud-based software applications for day-to-day business
- Necessary IT capacity for future video and audio-based municipal software applications
- Sharing of municipal software platforms with other public agencies, including
- Online permitting or applications with South Bay cities and greater Los Angeles County
- Sub-regional geographic information system (GIS) mapping tools with other cities and SBCCOG
- The opportunity for cities to install municipal Wi-Fi in public spaces, parks and buildings
- Future expansion of broadband infrastructure for commercial and residential use
Addressing the Digital Divide in the South Bay
Digital Innovation in the South Bay
Read SBFN press release from November 17, 2020: “SBCCOG Completion of High-Speed Internet Infrastructure to Help Usher City Facilities Through COVID-19 Challenges; Improve Regional Transportation.”
Watch the recorded SBFN Connection Celebration here.