National Public Lightpath: Fiber Optics & American Communities

In 2008-2010, BAVC and its partner, the Institute for Next Generation Internet (INGI) at San Francisco State University, met with the nation’s leaders in public media, education, advanced networks, municipal governments and philanthropy to assess the potential of creating a new Internet in the public interest. BAVC believes that establishing a next generation Internet in the public interest - something we dubbed the National Public Lightpath (NPL) - will enable significant advancements for American schools, businesses, public institutions, communities and individuals.  This video explains these efforts, focusing on a case study of a community network developed and implemented in Lafayette, Louisiana, and an experiment between youth digital media producers at BAVC and in Lafayette.

More background:

The NPL is designed to extend the reach of super-high-speed connections among public media organizations, public schools, universities, government agencies, community-based organizations and centers of innovation across the United States. It will create the ability to enter true real-time collaborations and provide access to a level of interconnection speed unsurpassed anywhere in the world. The impact on education, technology and innovation will be immediate, and the strengthening of civic life and public engagement will be transformative.

With the support of the Ford Foundation in 2008, the NPL organizers (including BAVC) engaged in community and stakeholder organizing to formulate and advance the vision of NPL.  These efforts resulted in NPL’s inclusion within public broadcasting’s stimulus request to then President-elect Obama’s transition team as one of four principal investments for consideration.

In 2009-2010, with continued support from the Ford Foundation, NPL partners facilitated a series of discussions in the public media sphere on the values of a next generation Internet and shared infrastructure, and made first experiments to operationalize an active network. The key partners in this strategic effort are BAVC, National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA), Association of Public Television Stations (APTS), and National Lambda Rail (NLR).

With knowledge gained through National Public Lightpath research and experimentation featured in this video, BAVC implemented programs and applications over a local fiber network in San Francisco for public access television.  To learn more about these efforts, see

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