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Event

 
Press Conference Advisory:

Contact: Sydney Levy, Media Alliance (415) 994-4854
When:   Wednesday, September 29, 2004, 11:30 AM
Where:   SF City Hall, Polk Street Steps

Supervisor Ammiano, Media Alliance and Consumer Advocates Announce
Municipal Broadband Plan

S.F. Joins List of Cities in Race to Provide Low-Cost, High-Speed
Internet and Data Services to First Responders and Residents

San Francisco  On Wednesday, September 29, 2004 at 11:30 AM,
Supervisor Tom Ammiano will be joined by representatives of The Utility
Reform Network (TURN), Media Alliance, Common Assets, and the
Department of Telecommunications and Information Services to announce a
plan for Municipal Broadband Infrastructure, timed to coincide with
planned replacement of the City's aging sewer infrastructure over the
next five years.

"As we saw last week, cable rates are going through the roof.
Meanwhile, telecomms are making it difficult for independent Internet
Service Providers to reach customers," said Supervisor Tom Ammiano.
"There is a better way. As we plan to dig up City streets for our
planned sewer rebuild, we should investigate options for Municipal
Broadband Infrastructure leased on a wholesale basis to a range of
competitors."

Dozens of cities across the United States are already instituting
community wireless networks connected to municipal cable.  "If this
effort is successful, the people of San Francisco will be able to pay
five dollars a month, not fifty dollars a month, for high-speed
internet. Plus, our schools, community centers, and fire and police
departments will be served by truly state-of-the-art information
technology."  said Jeff Perlstein, Executive Director of Media
Alliance.

According to Supervisor Ammiano and the Department of
Telecommunications and Information Services, there is ample precedent
for this approach.

In Salt Lake City, 18 cities have formed a Joint Powers Agreement to
operate the Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency (UTOPIA)
as a wholesale provider of local transport that offers its services to
service providers (and not to the public on a retail level). The
project is expected to take 3.5 years. The project asserts that it will
benefit service providers by providing a means of entering the
marketplace. UTOPIA states that consumers will benefit by having more
choices, better products, lower prices and access to enhanced
educational and health systems.

"To date, the local phone company and cable providers have had a
stranglehold on broadband service in San Francisco," said Regina Costa
of The Utility Reform Network (TURN). "City residents have been denied
access to innovative, high quality, reasonably priced broadband
services and the ability to receive service from small telecom carriers
and information service providers. TURN applauds the proposal for San
Francisco to examine whether it can build a well-designed, reasonably
priced wholesale broadband network."
Independent Internet Service Providers also support the proposal.

"The California ISP Association strongly supports investigation of
Municipal Broadband Infrastructure that could be leased on a
non-discriminatory basis to providers. Currently, San Francisco
residents and businesses have only two real choices for broadband: the
cable company and the phone company," said Mike Jackman, Executive
Director of the California ISP Association. "When consumers and small
business have a choice of ISPs, they get the best service and pricing."

The proposed plan will be discussed following the press conference, by
the Finance Committee at 1:00 PM at City Hall in Room 263.
 
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Steve Rhodes

http://ari.typepad.com blog
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