San Francisco is planning to find network providers to build a city-wide, gigabite fiber internet with consumer privacy protections.
The city-wide internet would be an open-access network, allowing multiple Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to offer service over the same lines and compete for customers.
The city yesterday issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to find companies that are qualified.
These companies will design, build, finance, operate, and maintain a ubiquitous broadband FTTP [fiber-to-the-premises] network that permits retail service providers to lease capacity on the network.
The network would have to cover San Francisco’s land area of 46.7 square miles and a population of more than 860,000.
The city estimates construction would take three to five years.
San Francisco would provide payments to the builder when construction milestones are reached. The private builder would also get a share of the network’s revenue.
The project would also involve a free Wi-Fi service for city parks, city buildings, major thoroughfares, and visitor areas.
Also low-income residents would qualify for subsidies that make home Internet service more affordable.
ISPs offering service over the network would not be allowed to block or throttle lawful Internet traffic or engage in paid prioritization.
The ISPs would need customer’s opt-in consent prior to collecting, using, disclosing, or permitting access to customer personal information or information about a customer’s use of the network.
According to Mayor Mark Farrell, Trump’s hand-picked Republicans in Congress have dismantled crucial net neutrality, privacy, and consumer protection.
He said they will provide an alternative that favors the general public and San Francisco values, not corporate interests.
About 100,000 people in the city are said to lack Internet access at home with 15 percent of the City’s public school students not having Internet access.
The cost of Internet services has been repeatedly cited as a barrier to access for low-income families.
But then, the city says it will cover a portion of the costs for the multi-billion dollar project and provide or lease access to necessary city property and infrastructure.
The RFQ deadline is March 26.
It anticipates that the city would sign a 15-year agreement with the winning bidder.