Broadband Redux: Can We Bring Broadband to Yolo County?


BroadbandBy Rob White

In early June I wrote about Austin, TX and Provo, UT being named as the next recipient cities for Google Fiber. The article I wrote referenced an announcement heralded in Government Technology e-Magazine.

Since then, I have heard suggestions and ideas from a number of providers and local officials in Yolo County on how to deliver significant broadband coverage to both urban and rural customers. Yolo County Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCo) Executive Director Christine Crawford is working with many officials from the cities and the County to try and identify an expeditious and robust manner to deliver better connectivity and higher speeds to a distributed populace. A significant portion of the discussion has also centered on how to utilize broadband for better communications and increased data gathering and assessment for agriculture.

A Wi-Fi solution using current technology provides obvious connectivity solutions for urban and rural application, but has challenges over distances and with obstructions like trees and buildings. And wired solutions might provide more reliable service, but infrastructure installation can be very costly and likely requires significant funding to deliver a significant network.

In April, while in Washington DC for the Metro Chamber Cap-to-Cap advocacy trip, I had heard about the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) discussing the use of unused television wavelength spectrum to deliver a more robust Wi-Fi network at higher speeds. I read some interesting articles about the opportunities of “super Wi-Fi” on the FCC website and was intrigued about the opportunity, which I shared with a number of the Davis/Yolo delegation while in DC. You can read about it on the FCC website.

And three months later, while again doing advocacy in Washington DC for the City of Davis in just last week, I read a twitter post by a friend about West Virginia University deploying the nation’s first university-based super Wi-Fi.  And with a little digging on the internet, I then found information about the community of New Hanover County, North Carolina as the first community licensed by the FCC to deploy super Wi-Fi.

This super Wi-Fi broadband solution won’t necessarily deliver the kinds of speeds we are seeking from fiber deployment, but the Yolo County area agricultural sector could gain readily from more robust and reliable connectivity. Being able to deploy sensors for nutrient, water and resource management can lead to increased productivity. It can also facilitate research applications that require significant data to be gathered and processed in the fields.

For government agencies (like a city, county or state university) it is much easier to be an early adopter of best practices when a few entities have blazed a trail. And since it is still early in the adoption of the super Wi-Fi spectrum as a method for deployment of a more robust network for broadband, it will be easier for County and local government officials to rapidly explore this opportunity. We need better broadband connectivity. Maybe we can identify a way for the next super Wi-Fi headline to be about the Yolo County deployment of this solution to for leadership in agriculture.

Thoughts on this subject?  Please let me know. My email is


About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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5 thoughts on “Broadband Redux: Can We Bring Broadband to Yolo County?”

  1. JustSaying

    To bad we gave up Davis Community Cable. Instead of being in the forefront of the broadband revolution, we find ourselves in the clutches of Comcast and AT&T’s marginal, money-grubbing, non-innovative operations.

  2. SouthofDavis

    Rob wrote:

    > Director Christine Crawford is working with many
    > officials from the cities and the County to try and
    > identify an expeditious and robust manner to deliver
    > better connectivity and higher speeds to a distributed
    > populace.

    While I would love to get “free” Wi-Fi in Yolo County I know someone will have to pay for it and I’m wondering why the City and County is even thinking about putting in Wi-Fi (and paying a lot more to maintain the system) when it can’t pay for the schools without asking for more money in parcel taxes every year or even keep the roads in good shape (try driving fast down some of the rural county roads or down Olive Drive here in town). Does anyone out there really need “higher speeds”? I have accounts with Comcast, AT&T and Verizon and I get over 5mpbs download speeds with all three (slower on my Verizon iPhone if I leave the Davis LTE area and go in to a 3G area).

    P.S. What is going on with Crown Castle/New Path who put up towers at 8th & J and Mace & Montgomery and have been talking about Wi-Fi in town for years?

  3. Steve Hayes

    [u][b]A Message to the Environmental Laity of the City of Davis[/b][/u]

    Only in our fair city will we be encouraged to minimize our carbon output (have a “Mickey Mouse sized carbon footprint) and maximize our electronic input (have a “Goofy” sized electronic footprint)! They will know us by our limping!

  4. Rob White

    SouthofDavis – The efforts are to help two problems: 1) urbanized areas of poor coverage and 2) coverage in rural areas where agriculture can take advantage of internet and data applications. We are exploring ways to have others (private industry, federal or state government, etc) implement the solutions. We are not working on the solution as something that local government would invest in. If we can solve connectivity issues, and increase throughputs in appropriate areas, we will create a more robust mechanism for community engagement, way for residents to access and pay for current services, and possibly increase technology investment by private corporations that will be locating in Davis.

    Davis Progressive – that is the idea! 🙂

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