The big tech news this week was the public announcement that CalTrans was ending its policy of charging right of way fees for high speed fiber lines that run along its highways. This is, as the linked article states, a “180 degree shift” in policy.

This is big news because the previous policy would have charged fees not just for the initial construction, but an annual fee that would have made the cost of building an altrenate fiber route along any California highway cost prohibitive. I think having a second fiber connection to the backbone of the Internet is essential for the security and economic future of the region. Reliance on the single line, owned by AT&T leaves us vulnerable to failures and subject to higher cost due to lack of competition.

Several organizations have been laying the groundwork for this second fiber line and one of the most likely routes has been along the east-west highway 299 corridor. But building this alternate route is expensive and no business would take on the task without a logical business plan that would indicate recovery of costs and eventual profit over a reasonable time frame.

While the 299 corridor is a natural route for this fiber, we had been looking at the possibility of using the PG&E power line that also runs east-west as a conduit for the new fiber line. PG&E had indicated they would charge far less than what the state had been proposing. Now, it appears we have two good possible routes.

So this is great news, not only for our region, but for California as a whole. What the state will lose in right of way fees, I think will more than be made up for in the long run through tax revenue from economic growth that will be fueled by stable and lower cost fiber access.