Wednesday, October 2, 2013



I've started the petition "The San Francisco Board of Supervisors: Prevent AT&T from installing new communication boxes where they are opposed by residents (or neighborhood associations)" and need your help to get it off the ground.

Will you take 30 seconds to sign it right now? Here's the link:

Here's why it's important:


Due to the increasing number of companies providing internet service/cable in the Bay Area, AT&T - in order to regain lost market share, and upgrade part of its aging communications system - has proposed installing up to 726 giant communication boxes on public rights-of-way throughout San Francisco. These boxes measure an outrageous 59" in length, 48" in height and 26" in depth.

If approved, they would be placed within 300 feet of every existing AT&T box. So the new ones do not replace the old ones - they are IN ADDITION to the existing boxes. 


The communication boxes will be painted a pale green color - perfectly inviting for graffiti "artists" - and they emit a hum all day long - "similar to the sound of an electric toothbrush" according to Marc Blakeman, the AT&T representative.


Points in favor of installing the AT&T communication boxes:

  • Upgraded infrastructure, higher internet speeds to offer subscribers.
  • 6.25% of revenue generated would be required to be paid to the City for use of the sidewalks.
  • Without these boxes, AT&T would be unable to provide its new U-verse program as proposed - they would be forced to implement a more costly means of providing the service or sacrifice losing the San Francisco market altogether.
  • AT&T states that it is willing to work with neighbors to find alternate locations for the boxes - usually down the street or next door (next to another unsuspecting neighbor.)
  • The hum that would be emitted - similar to that of an electric toothbrush, according to AT&T - complies with the City's noise ordinance.

Points against the installation:

  • The communication boxes would mostly be installed on city sidewalks, taking over substantial space. The space lost would benefit AT&T - not the general public
  • The boxes measure 59" long by 48" high by 26" deep. With the massive steel bollards on either side to protect them from impact, they would measure almost 7' across
  • Including the old, existing boxes there would be well over 1500 boxes taking over sidewalks in San Francisco
  • GRAFFITI! With the pale color these are painted - murals or darker colors are unacceptable - the boxes are tagged constantly. AT&T does not employ an anti-graffiti team, and puts the onus on taxpayers to maintain the exterior
  • The 7 foot length of these boxes + bollards would be installed only 18" from the curb, according to DPW requirements. Because of this, baby strollers and people with disabilities would be unable to exit cars on the sidewalk side.
  • Sound pollution: Despite complying with the City's noise ordinance, these boxes are noisy! The sound the fans make, may get louder over time, and will run 24 hours a day.
  • There are many other Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in San Francisco - all of whom receive customer reviews that are significantly better than AT&T's. (See reviews on Yelp.)

Just a little history of the system AT&T uses:


In the 1880s Alexander Graham Bell invented what's referred to as POTS - Plain Old Telephone Service. The system uses what's called "twisted pair". One wire goes from the caller, the other goes back.

Fiber optic is a superior option in that it can carry multiple times the data in a tiny thread. It can also carry the signal for huge distances with no degradation.

The problem with AT&T's U-verse plan is that rather than going with a fiber optic directly to the door, it would go to the new boxes and stop there. From there to the door, they would continue to rely on Alexander Graham Bell's twisted pair. Because of this, the maximum speed of the data being transferred would be about 1/5 of what other ISPs (like Comcast) already have in place. 

In 2011 AT&T stated on several occasions - including at a San Francisco Board of Supervisors hearing - that if a neighborhood opts to not allow AT&T to install these boxes they would not get them. Now they are ignoring those promises. When asked why, the response has been "things change."

From a Google employee: "Wireless technology is on the verge of surpassing (and for some aplications, has already surpassed) wired networks in terms of efficacy, and San Francisco should not have to 'bail out' AT&T by accepting this blight as a result of its inability to compete."


Contact your Supervisor and ask her/him to allow neighbors or neighborhood associations to prevent AT&T from installing those communication boxes:

District 1:  Eric Mar

District 2:  Mark Farrell

District 3:  David Chiu

District 4:  Katy Tang

District 5:  London Breed

District 6:  Jane Kim

District 7:  Norman Yee

District 8:  Scott Wiener

District 9:  David Campos

District 10:  Malia Cohen

District 11:  John Avalos


You can sign my petition by clicking here.

Gary Weiss

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