San Francisco explores low-cost fiber network expansion

San Francisco explores low-cost fiber network expansion

San Francisco wants to improve internet access for its residents living in public and affordable housing, and the city has released a request for information to get input on options for ways to extend its  #SFWiFi fiber network at minimal cost to the city.

Currently, 12 out of the city’s 43 public or affordable housing locations are connected to the network. The others gain access through a wireless bridge. The goal is to have all of these locations connected to the collocation site. The city also wants to upgrade its Community Broadband Network, which provides free Wi-Fi to public housing; it needs more capacity and increased reliability, according to the RFI.

Proposed cooperative arrangements include a shared structure in which the vendor would:

  • Build the network, give the city a share of the network for serving affordable housing and keep a portion of the capacity for commercial use.
  • Pay the city to build the network in exchange for capacity on the network.
  • Donate cash to enable the city to expand its fiber network.
  • Donates dark-fiber for no direct compensation.

Other models or hybrid approaches are also encouraged.

 “Respondents to this RFI are encouraged to propose a backbone solution that would support not just the needs of #SFWiFi, but also gigabit-speed broadband services for residents,” the RFI reads. “At a minimum, the city is interested in providing #SFWiFi in public spaces in public and affordable housing.”

The city is seeking information that clearly and plausibly articulates roles in designing, building, operating, owning and managing the network.

Interested respondents should fill out an online form. A formal request for proposal could follow this information gathering process, but that hasn’t been determined yet. The deadline to respond is Aug. 16 at 8 p.m.

About the Author

Matt Leonard is a reporter/producer at GCN.

Before joining GCN, Leonard worked as a local reporter for The Smithfield Times in southeastern Virginia. In his time there he wrote about town council meetings, local crime and what to do if a beaver dam floods your back yard. Over the last few years, he has spent time at The Commonwealth Times, The Denver Post and WTVR-CBS 6. He is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, where he received the faculty award for print and online journalism.

Leonard can be contacted at or follow him on Twitter @Matt_Lnrd.

Click here for previous articles by Leonard.

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