Bringing Broadband Choice to San Francisco

Engine chose to make its home in the Bay Area to be close to some of the most creative and disruptive companies in the country. A place where an innovative internet service provider like Webpass could build an entirely point-to-point wireless infrastructure, using super high spectrum frequencies to deliver the fastest internet in the city. Or where a provider like Monkeybrains could crowdfund the deployment of gigabit wireless service

Sonic, Fastmetrics, Etheric Networks—our area is home to a relatively high number of broadband providers. But unfortunately, these competitive services are not available to everyone: if you live in an apartment or condo, you may not be able to choose who delivers your broadband. While approximately 40 percent of San Franciscans live in apartments, only 3 percent have access to the fastest broadband technology available, according to Broadband Now.

There are over 196 different broadband providers operating in California, yet most of the time residents are stuck with only one or two choices. So, why is this the case? For those living in apartments and condos, it’s often because landlords and building owners get kickbacks in exchange for steering their tenants to big broadband providers or setting up exclusive contracts with those providers.

However, there is an opportunity to change this. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is considering a proposal that would give San Francisco residents the freedom to choose their broadband provider. The proposed "Choice of Communications Services Providers in Multiple Occupancy Buildings" ordinance would outlaw these kickbacks and level the playing field so providers have to compete for business instead of relying on backdoor deals with landlords and building owners.

If this ordinance passes, it will do away with a major barrier to entry, encouraging new providers to get in the game. In turn, San Francisco residents will see lower prices, faster speeds, and more options. You can help ensure this important ordinance is passed by telling your Supervisor to vote for internet choice. Learn more and sign the petition here!


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Photo Credit: Tom Hilton