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Brian Purchia

308 neighbors want access to fast, reliable, and affordable internet for everyone in San Francisco.

Progress
Is low cost, high speed Internet an economic right?
What if I told you that a hundred thousand San Franciscans, including thousands of public school students did not have electricity or water at home? I imagine many of you would be appalled and call for our government to step in and help. Now, substitute the Internet for water and electricity. Would you still be upset? According to the latest analysis from the City more than a hundred thousand residents in the land of Twitter and Salesforce, do not have access to the Internet at home. Fifty thousand more have sluggish dial-up speeds.

How is this possible? And who is responsible for fixing the situation?
Almost two years ago, CivicMakers began organizing community events on how we close the digital divide and bring a public broadband network to San Francisco. We enlisted the smartest thinkers from the public and private sector, including CPUC Commissioner Catherine Sandoval, Supervisor Mark Farrell, leaders from Mozilla, the Startup Policy Lab, EFF, Internet Archive, and Zero Divide. We asked our elected leaders to explore an issue that has largely been neglected by City Hall since the Google free Wifi effort fizzled out nearly a decade ago.

President Obama has said, “high-speed broadband is not a luxury…It’s a necessity.” Broadband Internet service “has steadily shifted from an optional amenity to a core utility” and is now “taking its place alongside water, sewer, and electricity as essential infrastructure for communities,” according to the White House. This is about equity and competing in the 21st century.
California is the birthplace of the Internet, yet we’re falling behind nationally and globally.

A teacher recently shared a story with with me about how she has had to dumb down the homework she gives her students, because she is not sure they will be able to download it at home. This is reality for nearly nine thousand San Francisco public school students. How are our children to succeed if they cannot do their homework at home?

And as Supervisor Farrell has said, “How can we expect our residents, in particular those that are having challenges breaking into the workforce, to compete for San Francisco jobs if they can’t even access the Internet?”

Today, San Francisco’s Budget and Legislative Analyst released a report on how we bring low-cost Gigabit-speed Internet to everybody in San Francisco. For the first time we have financial estimates on the costs of constructing, owning, and operating a citywide municipal fiber network.

What this report is really about is people — fairness, education and competition. The report provides policymakers with a range of costs, risks, and benefits to the City on three options for building a gigabit network 1) Public development and ownership 2) Private development and ownership and 3) Public-Private partnership development and ownership.

One thing, we cannot do is rely on the incumbent telecoms to provide access to our underserved communities. Their bottom line is making money, not the public good. The Budget and Legislative Analyst makes that clear, the analysis “found no evidence of short-term plans by any of the incumbents to invest in gigabit speed fiber-to-the-premises services Citywide.”

So, I ask how many of you would be willing to pay up to $26 for high speed internet from a variety of providers with the city retaining ownership of the network? That’s what the report suggest at maximum it would cost San Franciscans for Internet via a Public-Private partnership model. Or under a purely public, demand-driven approach they estimate they City would be on the hook for $393.7 million in construction costs and $103.2 million in annual costs.

If any city can tackle this problem — it’s San Francisco. We should be a model for others and building for the future. We have led the charge on equal rights, access to healthcare and pressing environmental issues. It is time we provided the infrastructure to all residents to compete in our modern economy. Those that cannot afford this basic right, should be offered a hand to lift them up.

I believe like many of you that Internet access is a basic economic right. It’s not a nice to have, it’s a must have in 2016. It’s time for our elected officials to follow-up on these findings and quickly begin a process to open the door for all San Franciscans to thrive and for more options than the current duopoly we have today.

This idea was updated on 3/16/16 - medium.com/civic-makers/is-low...


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Dan

Supervisor Farrell "built momentum for [publicly owned broadband] by forming a coalition of neighborhood groups and a panel of academics to publish reports on the importance of a municipal fiber network. Farrell and Mayor Ed Lee also secured $600,000 in city funding for a consultant, CTC Technology and Energy, to calculate cost estimates."

www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/ar...

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Supervisor Mark Farrell pushes Internet for all in SF

The city would lay fiber-optic cable underground and contract with private companies to deliver fast, inexpensive service to all residents and businesses. “The sad reality is that San Francisco is the innovation capital of the world, and more than 100,000 San Francisco residents still do not have Internet access at home,” Farrell said, citing...

www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/ar...

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Posted Jun 7, 2017
Progress
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Bruce Wolfe

Here's the full report to the Board of Supervisors - sfbos.org/sites/default/files/...

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Posted Oct 20, 2017
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Mayor Edwin M. Lee

The internet is an essential tool for our everyday lives. #SF residents deserve equal & affordable internet access.

www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article...

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San Francisco moving closer to building a city-owned Internet network

San Francisco appears to be closer than ever to building a citywide municipal Internet network - an ambitious project that's proved elusive for more than a decade. City officials are poring over the findings of a comprehensive 200-page report that will serve as San Francisco's lodestar as it moves toward creating a proposed...

www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article...

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Posted Oct 18, 2017
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Mayor Edwin M. Lee

"Now, more than ever, cities across the country must stand up and fight for equity. For more than two years, we have been working diligently to design and deploy a citywide municipal fiber network that will offer more options than currently available and ensure all of San Francisco is connected to a fast and affordable Internet.

We are working to ensure that robust Internet service is available to children looking to educate themselves, small businesses trying to expand their reach, and seniors seeking to access city services. This project aims to close the digital divide for the 100,000 San Franciscans, including 1 in 7 San Francisco public schoolchildren, who lack Internet access at home. Private industry has been unable to meet this need.

We have been building support by meeting directly with the community about their priorities and values through San Franciscans for Municipal Fiber. We have enlisted the help of the brightest academic, business and privacy experts from around the country to answer key questions as we finalize this undertaking.

While the Trump administration seeks to dismantle the Internet as we know it, we have a plan. Now, it is time to execute. We need your help. Join us in supporting an open Internet."

www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/op...

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FCC seeks to end ‘open’ Internet but San Francisco has a plan

[...] the November election, the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates Internet service, agreed with this basic premise. Pai and his Republican allies in Congress are moving at record speeds to roll back existing consumer protections and privacy regulations. [...] Congress and the FCC collaborated to repeal broadband privacy...

www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/op...

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Posted Apr 27, 2017
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Dan

Great long read from Susan Crawford on why municipal fiber ("dark fiber") is the best solution for cities like SF:

"The only business model for fiber that will work to produce the competition, low prices, and world-class data transport we need — certainly in urban areas — is to get local governments involved in overseeing basic, street grid-like “dark” (passive, unlit with electronics) fiber available at a set, wholesale price to a zillion retail providers of access and services."

backchannel.com/google-fiber-w...

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Google Fiber Was Doomed From the Start

The internet access answer won’t come from private markets, but rather from policies that make for competitive networks.

backchannel.com/google-fiber-w...

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Posted Mar 16, 2017
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Dan

"In the coming months, the San Francisco Municipal Fiber Blue Ribbon Panel will conduct research and provide recommendations on the most efficient and effective ways to blanket the city with broadband, an effort that could cost up to $1 billion.

If it becomes reality, San Francisco would be the largest city in the country to implement citywide high-speed Internet. City officials are currently targeting speeds of 1 gigabit per second. The average Internet speed in the U.S. is 31 megabits per second according to the most recent data published by the Federal Communications Commission, so this could be about 30 times faster."

www.sfchronicle.com/business/a...

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Panel to study wiring San Francisco with high-speed Internet

San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell has assembled a group of business, privacy and academic experts to discuss crucial, early-stage questions surrounding Farrell’s plan to wire the city with high-speed Internet service. Crawford, who teaches courses on municipal uses of technology, Internet law and communications law, worked as an assistant...

www.sfchronicle.com/business/a...

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Posted Mar 14, 2017
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Dan
Dan
Mar 7, 2017

Fast, Affordable Internet for ALL San Franciscans!
Monday, March 13, 2017, 6:00pm - 8pm
Galvanize, 44 Tehama Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

Internet access is the lifeblood of our society and economy. It brings opportunity for education, connection, and prosperity. Imagine a life without internet access; this is a reality for 100,000 of San Francisco’s population. That’s right, in the hub of tech innovation, 100,000 residents do not have reliable access to the internet.

Together, we can ensure access for all! That’s where San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell comes in.
Please join Galvanize and San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell for a question and answer session on San Francisco’s efforts to deliver fast and affordable Internet to all residents and businesses in San Francisco. Hear from Supervisor Farrell on his over two years of works on this project, the immediate next steps, and how you can get involved to help make this project a reality.

Bring your questions! We’ll save plenty of time for you to interact with Supervisor Farrell.

Agenda:
6:00pm – Doors open, networking, light refreshments
6:30pm – Presentation from Supervisor Farrell
6:50pm – Open Q&A
8:00pm – Conclusion

Learn more: www.eventbrite.com/e/fast-affo...

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Dan

"A national trade group has asked the Federal Communications Commission to overturn a San Francisco ordinance intended to keep landlords from interfering with their tenants’ ability to choose their Internet service provider."

twitter.com/MarkFarrellSF/stat...

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Posted Mar 3, 2017
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Dan

"Here, in the heart of the technology world, more than 100,000 San Francisco residents do not have access to the Internet at home, including 14 percent of our public school students. By not guaranteeing Internet access, we are leaving the next generation of San Franciscans further behind. We need to fix this."

www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/op...

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San Francisco needs Internet access for all

Here, in the heart of the technology world, more than 100,000 San Francisco residents do not have access to the Internet at home, including 14 percent of our public school students. How can we expect our residents — especially the poor, seniors and minority communities who are most affected by this digital divide — to compete in the 21st...

www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/op...

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Posted Feb 20, 2017
Bruce Wolfe
Bruce Wolfe
Feb 20, 2017

The result of this is contained here of which I was/am participant www.sfchronicle.com/business/a...

Clearly community broadband through fiber optics is sorely needed in SF and one we have been fighting to get for over a decade. The concern is that any continued stalling in all accounts only benefits the top 5 major carriers to end-users, the customers, us.

It's time for action now condidering the installation of Ajit Pai as the new FCC chairman who is dead-set to repeal Net Neutrality, zero-rating and open up full control to Big Internet multi-national corporations.

SF needs to set up its own Communications Commission and invoke its sovereignty in what we envision and demand our Internet to be. The state must follow suit now, too.

Posted by Bruce Wolfe on Feb 20, 2017
Dan
Dan
Feb 20, 2017

Great point Bruce ... and thank you for participating in the committee. For those who are interested, here's the direct link to the San Franciscans for Municipal Fiber: www.sfmunifiber.com/

Posted by Dan on Feb 20, 2017
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Dan

Thank you to Supervisor Farrell for your leadership on this issue - www.sfexaminer.com/campaign-be...

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Campaign begins building support for citywide fiber internet

San Francisco is building support among community groups in anticipation of a plan to connect every home and business with high-speed fiber optic internet service. Supervisor Mark Farrell, who has …

www.sfexaminer.com/campaign-be...

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Posted Feb 16, 2017
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