San Francisco Municipal Broadband Targets $26 Monthly Base Price - Telecompetitor: City officials have recommended construction of a San Francisco municipal broadband network based on a public-private partnership. The recommendations came in a 103-page report issued by the office of Supervisor Mark Farrell on March 15.The Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency (UTOPIA) had planned to expand its services using a similar financing mechanism with a private finance partner, Macquarie Capital Group. It pulled the plug on the partnership last month amid resistance to the utility fee. However, the model could fare better in the city by the bay due to multiple factors including its relative affluence, more liberal political leanings and its well established place in the information technology industry. Unlike UTOPIA, a regional network involving several municipalities, San Francisco is also a much more compact service area of just 14 square miles with pre-existing municipal infrastructure that would facilitate construction. That likely made it easier for San Francisco to reject the model used by legacy telephone and cable companies and Google Fiber that builds infrastructure serving some but not all neighborhoods.
According to the San Francisco Municipal Fiber Advisory Panel’s report – Financial Analysis of Options for a Municipal Fiber Optic Network for Citywide Internet Access – a publicly funded broadband utility network would cost the city an estimated $867.3 million in construction costs plus $231.7 million a year in maintenance costs. Projected subscriber revenue would result in an annual deficit of $145 million. Given this, as well as the desire to build in some market competition, the authors recommended the city launch a public-private partnership model that calls for all San Francisco homes and businesses to pay an average $26 per month utility fee for baseline Internet access. Introducing tiered pricing models based on type of service or bandwidth use could offset operating costs and lower baseline fees.