San Francisco and New York Move Ahead on Broadband


San Francisco, California and New York are pushing ahead on broadband expansion. Earlier today, the city of San Francisco announced its plan to treat broadband internet access as a utility. New York will be investing $341 million in the third round of broadband expansion financing.

San Francisco stands up for local net neutrality

“Trump’s hand-picked FCC and Republicans in Congress have dismantled crucial net neutrality, privacy, and consumer protections,” said San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell. “We will provide an alternative that favors the general public and San Francisco values, not corporate interests. Through this project, we will close the digital divide, ensure net neutrality, and create a truly fair and open internet in San Francisco.”

Under the terms of San Francisco’s new broadband rules, the city will set up a municipal network that prioritizes affordability, net neutrality, and user privacy. The city has issued a request for qualifications seeking teams capable of designing and delivering a citywide fiber network to San Francisco. The fiber network will provide universal internet coverage in San Francisco.

Any internet service provider using San Francisco’s network will be required to follow strict net neutrality protections, including commitments to transparency, the free flow of information, equal treatment of traffic, no paid prioritization and unobstructed access to lawful websites. Additionally, any internet service provider must follow robust privacy and security standards.

The fiber network is being designed to ensure that low-cost, high-speed internet is available for all, helping to eliminate the digital divide in San Francisco. Currently, 12 percent of San Francisco residents—approximately 100,000 people—lack internet access at home. About 15 percent of the city’s public school students do not have internet access, a number that increases to 30 percent for African American and Latino students. The cost of internet services has been repeatedly cited as a barrier to access for low-income families.

The RFQ being issued today is seeking bid teams capable of designing, building, operating, financing and maintaining a citywide fiber optic network. Last year, city officials met with industry leaders to gather feedback on the plan to create a robust citywide fiber network.

The RFQ process will identify 3 – 5 qualified groups by the end of April. Following that, the city will issue Request for Proposals (RFP). The bidding team that is awarded the contract will build, operate and manage the city’s open access fiber optic network for 15 years.

Funding the last mile in New York

New York State is working through a broadband plan with the goal of connecting all New Yorkers. The total investment is just over $341 million. Phase III investments of $209.7 million have gone out providing 122,285 homes, businesses and community institutions across the state with access to high-speed internet. 43 awarded projects will address unserved territories, and approximately 7,544 miles of broadband infrastructure will be deployed.

The governor’s office says that with phase III funding, all corners of the state will have some form of access to high-speed broadband service.

In Round III, certain funded projects will also leverage up to $170 million in additional support from the federal Connect America Fund. Verizon will get $70.7 million in CAF funds, after initially declining to participate in the CAF backed part of the program. The remaining CAF funds will go to small local telecommunications providers.