Seoul. Tokyo. Hong Kong. Brentwood? Yes, Brentwood.

Strong high-speed Internet, or broadband, is crucial for cities of all sizes to succeed. Good broadband can help attract entrepreneurs. It can provide bandwidth for those who want to work from home.

It can help educate our students so that they are ready to compete in our changing economy. And broadband can help communities improve public health and safety.

Today, while many other cities have discussed the problem of increasing broadband access, Brentwood has implemented a plan to become a gigabit city. Getting to this point was several years in the making.

Even in the Bay Area -- a region that includes Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, and many other cities that clearly understand the importance of broadband -- it has been economically challenging to build the next generation of Internet infrastructure. And the access gap is real.

The recent Field Poll showed that nearly one in four Californians do not have high-speed Internet in their home, with the numbers lagging among Latinos and seniors.

When people learn that Brentwood is a national broadband leader, they often ask, "Why Brentwood?" The answer is simple -- we have been making modest investments to prepare for broadband since 1999, and as a city with a significant amount of new development, we've been able to incorporate our broadband plans into all of that new development.


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The time to get infrastructure in place is when development occurs. As a newer city, we have been able to take advantage of these opportunities. That's one significant advantage that our city has going for it.

As trenches were dug to install electricity and other necessary infrastructure, we required developers to invest as little as $1 per foot to place empty conduits, which are pipes buried underground, to be used for future Internet fiber placement. Now, we have between 120 and 150 miles of conduit available for our partnership with Sonic.net to provide Gigabit Internet that is 40 to 500 times the speed of most other cities.

Thanks largely to this small investment, the city of Brentwood has been able to launch a partnership with Sonic.net to deliver ultrahigh speed Internet to more than half of the city's homes and businesses, including all future new construction.

More than 8,000 households will have the ability to receive phone and gigabit Internet service for as little as $40 a month (plus tax/equipment fees). We will also have lower-speed copper service to those parts of the city that do not have conduit available. Additionally, certain public facilities will connect to the gigabit network, which will save the city $15,000 in annual Internet service costs.

When Brentwood started this journey, there was no template for how to be a gigabit city. We learned as we developed, but we knew there was great potential in the work we were doing. One of the best first steps that communities can make to plan for high-speed broadband is to update building codes to require conduit to prepare for residents' future needs.

Doing so makes an investment in your economy. Also, to attract broadband partnerships, cities will need to facilitate the network build-out. For example, expediting the permitting and inspection process for a third-party provider during construction. By doing this, cities will make it possible for broadband providers to stay ahead of the curve and quickly respond to their community's broadband needs.

The benefits that come from our investing in broadband are huge. Studies have shown that having access to high-speed Internet boosts property values and is a key factor that businesses consider when determining where to locate their business.

We in Brentwood are ready to join the global community of leading cities providing high speed Internet to its residents. It's time for all regional cities to join us.

Kerry Breen is the assistant finance director of Brentwood and Paul Eldredge is the city manager.