Fiber Last Century!

(This is a recent photo of items found while doing a once-in-a-century telecommunications infrastructure upgrade on a 100 year old SF building. Given the MPOE choices for this locale, the shaky aerials climbed, there is no doubt that the dark corners of the SF telecom system has parts that look like this or worse.)

Was: Fiber Now!

Then: Fiber Last Year!

Now: Partial Fiber Soon Maybe.

So what’s up with high speed internet in San Francisco? Wasn’t there some big hullabaloo about this last year?

In fact, there is some good news. San Francisco Beautiful’s (SFB) latest delay tactic for the all-city fiber internet rollout by ATT has been defeated. Sadly, this is not a chance to rejoice and carouse through the streets, singing so long, suckers. They will no doubt appeal, as haters always hate. And SFB has been hating for five long years and counting….

So what’s going on here?

Let’s break it down into three groups: San Francisco Beautiful, leading the opposition to a once-in-a-century telecommunications upgrade for San Francisco. The Supervisors of San Francisco. And San Francisco citizens who want broadband/home networking that is competitive with other top-tier, high-speed venues like Paris, Bucharest, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Seoul.

News on the high-speed front: in the report above, is there a glimmer of hope for people who want gig internet in SF’s mission/media gulch/north/beach/haight/castro/noe/soma/etc neighborhoods? Is gonna put 200 boxes in? YES PLEASE ACCORDING TO THESE COMMENTS. Is Verizon looking to put FiOS in SF, for real? Pinch me. Again, the primary goal for SF should be to have multiple vendors providing high-speed internet services, and not limit it to one vendor. This kind of competition means lower prices and faster bandwidth. A secondary, hail-mary type goal should be to convince sonic or google to bring gig-ethernet service to the city, and stop messing around. Note, some expedited processing by the part of city government certainly helped Kansas City. Would the same help SF?

Of note: Seattle just allowed private licensing of the (public) dark fiber ring: SF has this same capability, but is not even considering these solutions. The lack of use of SF’s fiber network is even more distressing when one considers all the recent SFDPW water/sewage improvements, which ripped up streets all over the city: with effective leadership, a full fiber to the home solution could have been implemented simultaneously with the water conservation work. Wiff…. missed opportunity.

News on the supervisor front: Mad Rad Supervisor and proven Internet Champion Carmen Chu and the FUF are planning on planting a record number of trees in the Sunset district in a couple of weeks. Come on people, sign up for the “Outer Sunset” plant and help to make San Francisco REALLY Beautiful. Oh, look who helped pay for some of this beautification: ATT. LOL. Now, I will go cry over a glass of wine….

And bringing up the rear: San Francisco Beautiful. INTERNET DEATH EATER. Stick to the Mission Mural Restoration project and give up on attacking internet infrastructure already. What has to be done to get you to stop harassing San Francisco residents who want better internet? What has to be done to get you to live up to the “livability” part of your mission statement?

The saga so far:

Fiber Near Futures

Fiber Internet Wins!!

San Francisco Supervisors vs. Fiber Internet

Fiber Internet Wins!!!

At approximately 4:45PST, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to affirm the exemption determination for AT&T’s once-in-a-century telephone infrastructure upgrade project, aka “Project Lightspeed.” This means that AT&T can now start to implement their plan to upgrade the telecom infrastructure in the city, with the goal of delivering higher-speed 24Mbs DSL service within all San Francisco districts. AT&T also calls this as “Uverse” which can be any combination of television, telephone, and internet.

The final proposal seems to allow 495 cabinets to be installed throughout the city of San Francisco by AT&T. Multiple potential sites for each cabinet location are to be evaluated. When AT&T seeks an excavation permit from the DPW, besides doing the usual permit stuff, DPW will also notify that site’s supervisor. Then, that supervisor signs an MOU (memorandum of understanding) with AT&T regarding the site, or one of the alternative sightings are considered. Something like that: the specific details seem fuzzy. There seems to be a formal and sane DPW appeals process, and a  my-supervisor-is-crazy-curve-ball appeals process.

Voting against were the following sorry lot of supervisors, with their comments below.

District 1: Eric Mar

District 3: David Chiu

District 5: Ross Mirkarimi

District 6: Jane Kim

District 11: John Avalos

Note to the supervisors listed above: I will be voting against you in future elections, geography permitting, and consider your conduct in this matter anti-internet, anti-technology, anti-jobs: death eaters, all! Here are specific comments.

Mirkarimi: Against this for 2+ years. I don’t understand the process outlined in the MOU. Is this a back-door in the city planning process? Voting against, and in addition tried to defer decision for a fourth time to September 6th.

Mar: AT&T community engagement much improved. They scaled back from 726 to 495 locations, shows improvement. AT&T pays 5% tax on video profits to the city for the right to have boxes taking up city space providing the city/state a utility like telecom. Should that be increased for more boxes? Decreased for fewer boxes? Protect public space. Voting against.

Kim: Confused here. Starts with: “this is not about competition.” Then mentions that many constituents in SoMa want more companies providing internet connectivity and television. Unlike the present situation, with a Comcast monopoly.  Then she gets a couple of thank-yous in, and gets less confused. AT&T did great community outreach. Then she gets confused again: At what number is there a significant impact? Pedestrian safety! Pedestrians complain about the palm trees on 6th street. Voting against.

Chiu: AT&T phase one is 495 cabinets, and then have to confer for up to 231 additional cabinets in any phase two. He wonders about the six years the board of supervisors have been discussing this, and the way technology has changed. (Implying that the technology can be re-engineered by our now-smarter future selves?) Also brings up placement of the boxes on private property. Voting against.

Shouts out to Elsbernd for getting real about this and his unequivocal support from the beginning, and for Wiener for voting yes and the dialogue with AT&T, even if he did delay this vote three times and three months. All good in the end! Scott Wiener’s note explaining his vote is an excellent read, and clearly states the issues: recommended.

This marks the end of a nearly 2.5 year saga whereby AT&T tries to do a network upgrade and the SF Board of Supervisors resists. See San Francisco Board of Supervisors vs. Fiber Internet for some background.

Addendum. Not so fast, apparently. San Francisco Beautiful strikes again, and launches a new legal initiative, which will no doubt delay this project once again. The situation is a bit more nuanced, with ATT on the attack on another front: wireless antenna improvements, aka Project Snail-speed. This second front is also under attack by SF Beautiful and the likely battleground is the Board of Supes at some point, so stay tuned. In addition, ATT is making the tie between good wired infrastructure and better wireless infrastructure explicit with this microcell product. This kind of do-it-yourself-with-our-help-and-network is common in the southland to fix up cellular network holes and dead spots.

When will San Francisco have 100Mbit or gig fiber internet available to the majority of residents, with a choice of providers? Sebastopol, CA, anybody? Canarsie, NY, anybody? Kansas City? Hello?

We built this shit.

The saga so far:

Fiber Near Futures

Fiber Last Century

San Francisco Supervisors vs. Fiber Internet