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This wiki compiles research on technologies and policies relevant to economic development via micro-grid: unified district utility systems as small as a housing district, campus or small town. See unified district utility business plan for an overview of why one provider unifying district services makes sense and micro-grid_controversies_and_choices for an overview of difficult problems/barriers/constraints that should be understood before considering deploying such projects.

An inherent part of such deployments is universal gigabit wired Internet - a front end gigabit guarantee to local transit exchange. Outside the US government (which has committed to it for all public (hospital, school, fire department, government) buildings), such a gigabit guarantee exists presently in North America only in Chattanooga, Tennessee which deployed a gigabit micro-grid in 2010-11. [1], see also the new grid and Wikipedia: fiber to the x especially regarding FTTC technologies that require no new wiring except between the poles. Outside North America leaders are Finland (which has a 100M guarantee to local transit exchange for every home) and South Korea (which has a gigabit guarantee for every household) and Switzerland (which has a 4 dark fibre guarantee to local transit exchange which service providers can use). See wikipedia for more on such plans.

On the back and middle mile, cities like Santa Monica, major buildings have 10G guarantee to local transit exchange and some are considering 100G guarantee to local transit exchange. State-wide projects such as Maine Fiber Company and Network New Hampshire Now have simmilar goals to form an open access dark fibre system to which any carrier can connect. The combination of the universal access to customers provided by the front end and the universal access to providers at a transit exchange creates a market similar to the electric grid in which wholesale and retail are separated.

Who cares and why?

From 2012 to the 2030s, the global (and specifically North American) power grid will go through changes more profound than any since its creation in the 1890s to 1930s. A once-in-a-lifetime change that requires power and communications to be increasingly managed together, and ultimately to be delivered to consumer devices on one cable.

for early adopters

Early adopters see a professional or political or personal value in using something before everyone else, especially if they believe it will catch on ultimately everywhere. They should adopt powerline networking early and blaze a trail for ultra-efficient combined competitive power and data networking, saving in utilities.

for towns/districts/reserves/campus

Towns that own their own public power districts, rural electric co-operatives, native reserves (called in Canada First Nations and in the US tribal lands), and large corporate/government/academic campus settings, usually have the authority to unify all district services into a common utility and provider model. Organizations of community anchor institutions such as university/college or hospital networks also usually play a significant role.

Using universal wired broadband with wired backup with no new wiring required anywhere, markets in transit exchange and co-generated power where no monopoly controls any utility service(s) can evolve, allowing the operators to back off and facilitate competition where necessary, but take control where necessary as well. As of 2012 the model for this is open access dark fibre middle mile systems that are carrier-neutral and available for any carrier to serve the town/district/reserve/campus. Santa Monica for instance provides a 10G guarantee to local transit exchange in LA at 1 Wilshire at which 200 service providers compete.

for regions/states/provinces

Larger regions (such as major cities or small states or provinces) can set policies amenable to deploy and exploit combined communications and power capabilities. For instance, small towns may seek to attract teleworkers or smart grid/cleantech companies, or financial services companies that require little physical infrastructure. Cities may focus economic development outreach on major integrators such as vehicle makers (such as Volkswagen which set up in Chattanooga), or whole industries such as video games or other software. Those seeking to attract media companies may pass anti-SLAPP laws (such as California, NY state, Quebec and Iceland [2]) to ensure free exchange of reports, satire, comment and criticism. They can make electric vehicle policy clearer, faster and fairer, so that they are desirable tourist destinations for EV drivers, and extremely desirable places for EV-compatible businesses to set up and test offerings.

Current activities

Current activities include

Economic analyses

Real world studies


In your home

Advice paths

Seven different advice paths are supported in this wiki to which you can contribute:

For basic advice on desktop and data LANs, see where the Zero E-Waste box 2012 and ZEW0 LAN 2010 are developed. These will produce final recommendations in May 2010 (ZEW0) and thereafter in December every two years (ZEW2 in December 2011, ZEW4 in 2013, etc).

If you have no idea what this is about, see the home grid briefing note or a step by step briefing on all the issues above. If you know it's beyond you, feel free to ask a question of experts by email. For a more detailed scope and discussion see advice paths.