San Francisco may finally get decent internet access, thanks to municipal fiber

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Hallelujah! or Hella Yeah! Depending where yer from…


Hell - my town is the opposite. Have Fios at home, nothing but DSL available at my office. (price of both is a rip-off).

Only other choice is Comcast, but honestly, I’d do all my internet over my phone before I signed up with them.


Back in my youth, I worked for a local telco, and they talked a lot about the value of universal service. Put caps on that - Universal Service. Ma Bell had her monopolistic flaws, but she really did serve everybody equally, and would eat some losses to make sure everybody got a phone.

Not so much any more.


FWIW San Francisco isn’t just a Duopoly city, it has many independent ISPs, and they’re offering highly competitive speeds., Sonic com and just to name three. All three of those providers are offering gigabit service in San Francisco.

Municipally owned internet service has some significant potential, but it’s not a guaranteed home run. It needs proper management and handling. There’s no one-size-fits-all model that will work throughout the country.

To claim that there’s no decent internet access in San Francisco and that the city is held by the traditional Duopoly is either ill-researched or willfully deceitful.

Mindshare and awareness, or lack thereof is the biggest challenge for independent ISPs. Pieces like this one that completely overlook them in the landscape of Internet connectivity contribute significantly to the general perception that since Indy ISPs don’t generally have 100% coverage they are not a viable alternative.

Disclaimer: I am the Director of Infrastructure of an independent ISP in Santa Cruz, CA


1992? Possibly, but I wouldn’t want to bet on it. I think in Toronto was in the same period, and probably many elsewhere.

I live in San Francisco. At my apartment Comcast was the only option for broadband. They do offer gigabit, but for $90/month, and I dislike their policies on net neutrality, bandwidth caps, collecting my browsing data, etc.

Then Sonic came to the neighborhood offering gigabit for the price of Comcast’s 50 megabit plan. This ISP supports Title II regulation, doesn’t do bandwidth caps or collect my browsing history, and so on. They are exactly the example you’d use if you want to argue that competition will solve all our broadband woes.

My landlord won’t let them install in the building. San Francisco made it illegal for a landlord to refuse permission for a tenant-requested ISP to install in an apartment building, but he doesn’t care, and neither I nor Sonic is willing to go to court over it.


I’ve been following the San Francisco process on building access, we face similar issues here in Santa Cruz. It’s incredibly frustrating.

I’m not sure that blowing up the model and overbuilding everyone with city owned fiber is the answer though. I’m thinking that with some enforcement the City could facilitate that Sonic access for less than $1.5 billion

It’s not like Ma Bell did it out of the goodness of her heart, that was literally the legal requirement set in place in order for the monopoly to be granted.


A friend of mine brought a house in the Seattle area and discovered that despite Comcast’s assurances beforehand, they refused to install internet of any kind to his house or street.

His story ended up getting picked up by Consumerist and the local government agreed to help install fiber to his house.


Living in rural Texas I used dialup for many years. There is still no cable to the house, nor will there ever be. It’s about 1 bar on the cell, but not very often. I could cut down trees and hook up a satelite, but then I might as well move to the city. Today I moved to the foothills of California and pay the evil Comcast the money which despite their reputation, is pretty good for me.

Getting quality internet in SF is tough. My building has a snappy Monkeybrains connection (wireless), and it’s great doing business with them, but there is no good reason why it is so difficult to run fiber here. Fiber is faster and more reliable, and I had it 10 years ago in another city. Sonic is in the process of deploying fiber in my neighborhood. Given the presence of great local providers, who are interested in getting fiber to customers, it does make sense for the city to work with them. SFWIFI has already happened, does anyone know if local companies were involved? I like that there is public wifi, but the execution is rather unimpressive, slow speeds, captive portals, etc. It is without a question still invaluable to people without internet access at home, and travelers.

I hope that the city will help the local and even national businesses deliver fiber to customers by streamlining regulatory processes, and possibly provide access to infrastructure that speeds deployment. It would also be nice if they incentivized cheap/free access to low income customers, and public places. Building owners could be incentivized to provide access to the different providers.

Ubiquitous fiber and wifi in the city would be great. I’ll just hold my breath until then… [DIES!] I am the worst customer in the world and cannot be satisfied, but I wholeheartedly recommend Monkeybrains and don’t have a single bad thing to say about them. I’m counting my blessings that they service my place.

I’m guessing sfwifi was ambitious as this and then got watered down. It’s not even that bad of an idea to water it down, test it out in China Basin, Dogpatch, and Bayview and see if it turns out as dreadful as muni.

When the glorious fiber internet from the same people that brought you muni, sfmta, and poopy sidewalks comes, can we create internet heaven by destroying verizon, at&t, tmobile, and sprint, then replacing them with something even slightly less shitty?

Oh I know. But we low on the totem pole totally internalized the corporate culture. They called it having a “Bell-shaped head.”

Connection speed and provider availability vary widely by neighborhood (and even within neighborhoods) though. For example I’m a Sonic customer and the best service available on my street is sub-par DSL while customers just a block away get gigabit fiber connections.

I know people like to complain about everything the government does but seriously Muni is by far the best municipal transit system of any city I’ve lived in.

Oh, and the sidewalk poop isn’t a taxpayer-funded endeavor. We get that for free.


Actually there are a ton of “good reasons” (quotes used because while they are reasons, I don’t believe they’re good) it’s so difficult to run fiber in SF. First up, it’s harder and more expensive to build anything in California, the regulatory environment is just harder to navigate. Second, in SF it’s more expensive to build because you have to manage construction in a huge bustling city. Third, in SF specifically you can’t use any of the more efficient construction methods like microtrenching or Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) because there’s literally too much stuff already under the street. All of that makes it WAAAAY harder to build in SF than you’d imagine.

All that said though, there are providers building in SF right now. If the city would help facilitate access to buildings by enforcing the new regs it’d get better.

Oh for sure the speeds vary and those three providers don’t have 100% coverage, but they’re there, they’re serving thousands of residents and are ready to serve thousands more and they’re delivering gigabit speeds right now.

Why spend 1.5 billion to undercut three local companies who are already building it?

after checking on this a bit, I got this from Sonic:

Today about one out of four homes in SF can get gigabit fiber from Sonic.

I wonder if that factors in renters like me who are within the service area but can’t actually get the service.