San Francisco might install its own conduit anytime someone digs a hole

14 October 2014 by Steve Blum
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The City and County of San Francisco is on the verge of assuming that it will install conduit and, possibly, fiber optic cables whenever someone cuts into a street. A board of supervisors’ committee has endorsed a proposed ordinance that requires anyone – including utilities and the City itself – who applies for a permit to open a trench in the City’s right of way or otherwise digs a hole on City property to notify the department of technology (DT). According to a staff analysis of the draft

The purpose of the notice is to enable DT to determine whether to participate in the project by installing its own underground communications infrastructure. Under the ordinance, the presumption would be that DT will participate in the project unless DT notifies the applicant to the contrary. The proposed legislation would require DT to pay the incremental costs of installing its communications infrastructure in the trench…

“Incremental cost” shall mean the cost associated with adding City communications infrastructure to an excavation project. including the cost of the materials needed by the City and any additional labor costs.

The ultimate goal is to extend the City’s current 140 mile long network and, perhaps, lay the groundwork for a city-wide, city-run dark fiber system, not unlike Palo Alto or Santa Clara. The City already leases some capacity to medical and educational users.

The next San Francisco board of supervisors meeting is scheduled for a week from today, and that’s a likely time for the proposal to be considered. The agenda hasn’t been published though, so no guarantees.