Skip to content

Project Profile: Santa Monica City Net

Santa Monica City Net

photo credit: City of Santa Monica


Santa Monica, California

Project Sponsor / Borrower

City of Santa Monica

Program Areas

Value Capture

Value Capture Techniques

Joint Development

Right-of-Way Use Agreement




Santa Monica's City Net is a city-wide fiber optic broadband network connecting 43 city buildings along with school and college facilities in Santa Monica. The city funded the total construction costs for the project and shares operational and maintenance costs with the local school district and college. The leased institutional network went live in the summer of 2002 and yielded combined operational savings of $400,000 within the first year.

Rather than purchasing bandwidth like most municipalities, the City of Santa Monica decided to operate its own network. This opportunity arose in 2002 when the cable franchise granted to Adelphia Communications Company was up for renewal. Rather than having Adelphia manage an institutional network connecting public facilities, the City negotiated with the company to connect 43 city buildings with six strands of fiber and then maintain those routes. The city paid a one-time fee of $530,000 for construction of the network, avoiding a substantially higher cost associated with Adelphia's cable franchise renewal. In 2004, the City combined the telecommunication budgets of all city departments into one general fund, which is used today to expand City Net.

City Net has its origins in the Telecommunications Master Plan of 1998, which established an incremental approach to the development of a fiber optic network, as well as a "dig once policy." As Santa Monica streets were opened over the years for a variety of projects, the City was able to install conduit and fiber underground at a dramatically reduced cost - lowering the cost of implementing the city's network at the expense of building the network over a longer duration. This also allowed the City to avoid reducing the lifespan of it's streets and disrupting traffic by eliminating redundant digging. The Santa Monica Planning Department coordinated their capital planning efforts with City Net's goals for fiber optic deployment, allowing a constant extension of the network over the years while reducing the cost of fiber optic and conduit installation by up to 90%.

In addition to providing broadband connectivity, Santa Monica City Net also provides the option for businesses in the area to lease dark fiber (unused fiber optic cables) for broadband use. This creates another potential source of revenue to offset the costs of operating and maintaining the network. In 2017, the City of Santa Monica announced its intent to expand the its fiber network to 500 families living in 29 multi-unit affordable housing buildings.


$530,000 (original network construction to connect 43 city buildings)

Funding Sources

City of Santa Monica - $530,000

Project Delivery / Contract Method Design-build-operate
Private Partner


Project Advisors / Consultants

Adelphia Communications Company - Fiber Installation



Duration / Status

Construction began in February 2002

Construction is ongoing as City Net expands throughout Santa Monica

Financial Status/Financial Performance


  • City Net has served as an example for cities across the nation on forming City-owned fiber optic networks. By owning the network, the City can control network speeds and more easily budget for improvements to the system.
  • The "dig once" policy used in this project added to the significant cost savings in construction of the project. Placing fiber and conduit along with other capital projects can save $30,000 to $100,000 per mile.
Related Links / Articles

City Net Project Description

How to Grow a Network

Santa Monica Daily Press Article on Harvard Award


Gary Carter
Community Broadband Manager
City of Santa Monica
Tel: (310) 434-2612

back to top