Pando

Google finds a way to bring Fiber to SF without the drama

By Paul Bradley Carr , written on February 25, 2016

From The From the Trenches Desk

A couple of years back, Pando’s Dan Raile explained why Google had decided to skip San Francisco as it rolls out its Fiber program.

The short answer: the company had been stung before by the city’s unwillingness to approve big tech infrastructure projects led by private companies…

Chris Sacca, who led the project for Google, publicly vented his frustrations over working with San Francisco officials. What should have taken months took years as the Board of Supervisors under Aaron Peskin dragged its feet. NIMBYism reared its head, with some residents opposing the installation of boxes on San Francisco’s historic, pristine… sidewalks.

In the case of Google’s wifi plans, the company decided to develop its wifi infrastructure completely in house, without any public partnership, and skipped San Franscisco during the roll-out. With Fiber, the company decided not to even try, even with tech-friendly Mayor Ed Lee in City Hall. As Dan wrote in 2014...

Today, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee tends to deflect the fiber conversation by trumpeting the Market St. Wi-Fi rollout, which went live in December.  For all his eloquence about 21st-century civic leadership, the mayor is keen to gloss over discussions about infrastructure that matters. The trauma of the failed Google/Earthlink deal still haunts the city’s neighborhoods, and echoes through City Hall — and that’s before you factor in the continuing protests against Google buses. Just imagine what would happen if Google started digging up the streets.

But now there might be some good news for Fiber-hungry San Franciscans. Yesterday, Google announced its hack for bringing Fiber to its home market, without having to deal with obstructionism from the city. Rather than installing new fiber, Google’s San Francisco network will piggyback on existing infrastructure.  

From the announcement:

By using existing fiber to connect some apartments and condos, as we’ve done before, we can bring service to residents more quickly. This approach will allow us to serve a portion of San Francisco, complementing the City’s ongoing efforts to bring abundant, high-speed Internet to the City by the Bay.

The announcement also explains that, in partnership with the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), Google will be focussing its initial Fiber roll-out on those who currently have no Internet access: “Through these efforts, we hope to make the Internet more affordable and accessible for those most affected by the digital divide.”

This is all great news for San Francisco’s poorest residents, who lack access to the same online services and information the rest of us take for granted. And will likely be taken as a further personal affront by every entitled dipshit who thinks low income residents should be given less, not more, by the city.