On May 18, Atherton Fiber announced its launch into California's San Mateo County market. A subsidiary of Open 5G, Atherton Fiber is a community-driven, open-access fiber-optic network that delivers fast symmetrical Internet connections comparable to those of major broadband operators.
Via Atherton Fiber, the City of Atherton is providing an open access network to its residents. Atherton Fiber allows other providers to access its fiber network, so that cities can deliver their own branded broadband services. As contended by a company's statement, "This [represents] a significant difference from the closed networks of AT&T and Comcast."
“In 2014, during my first term as Mayor of Atherton, the Atherton City Council created an IT committee of knowledgeable, interested residents to determine how to best provide our residents with fast, reliable broadband service that would be community-oriented,” explained Rick DeGolia, Mayor of Atherton.
DeGolia continued, “We repeatedly heard that the incumbent internet providers were not meeting the needs of either the residents or of the town. After a thorough investigation, we decided to support the private company, Atherton Fiber, which was created by one of the committee members, to deploy dark fiber throughout our town. Atherton Fiber is an open access network provider that offers residents a choice of multiple internet service providers who have access to their network."
Atherton Fiber notes that it is in discussions with other cities about the potential for this type of network.
“I am an Atherton Fiber customer,” Atherton's Mayor DeGolia added. “And I am very happy with the service that I've received and with the speed that they have provided, which has eliminated delays and interruptions in the many Zoom meetings in which I participate.”
A range of broadband services
With its fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network, Atherton Fiber offers 1-Gigabit symmetrical broadband service for $65 per month and 500-megabit service for $55 per month, and expects to roll out 2.5-Gigabit symmetrical service later this year.
For high-income homes and businesses, Atherton Fiber will deliver 10 Gigabits of symmetrical fiber service for a $10-$15,000 installation charge, plus a $300 monthly fee via its Personal Fiber License service. The service guarantees an exclusive connection directly from the network hub to the customer premises on a lease-like arrangement that lasts 30 years.
Atherton Fiber notes the company is also committed to bridging the digital divide by serving lower-income communities with a free service. The company is already serving parts of North Fair Oaks with free, 1-Gigabit symmetrical fiber. Atherton Fiber estimates that at least 5 percent of residents in each city will qualify for free service.
Currently operating its network in the cities Atherton and North Fair Oaks, the company plans to expand into Woodside, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto, and other California cities over the coming year. Serving homes, schools and businesses, the company was founded by Atherton resident Mike Farmwald.
As pithily put by a company press release: "Founded by a disgruntled former Comcast and AT&T customer, Atherton Fiber is finding receptive customers who are fed up with lower-than-advertised broadband speeds and famously poor customer service, by offering symmetrical internet connectivity—the same speed uploading as well as downloading—starting at 500 megabits per second and going up from there."
“Broadband connectivity has changed people's expectations about what ‘fast’ means—what was amazing a couple of years ago is now annoyingly slow,” pointed out Gerry Lawlor, chief executive officer at Atherton Fiber, who added, "Our mission is to deliver the fastest broadband possible with the best customer service, period.”