San Francisco won’t put universal internet on upcoming ballot

A municipal broadband project that has been in talks for several years may have to wait a bit longer still.

The plan to build a citywide broadband internet service for all of San Francisco’s residents has stalled amid reports that outgoing Mayor Mark Farrell will not seek funding for the project before leaving office.

The San Francisco Examiner reported on Sunday that Farrell, who will leave office in mid-July, has decided not to place a revenue initiative on the November ballot that would have secured funding for the project.

The revenue initiative would have covered $1.7 billion over 25 years, but a recent poll projected that it would fall short of the votes needed to pass.

If the project is completed, San Francisco would be the first city government to provide universal internet access for residents and businesses, a feat that Farrell told The Examiner would eliminate the digital divide in the Bay Area and reduce the financial burden on taxpayers.


The city had recently identified three possible companies to build the broadband network, and intended to propose that the companies bid on the project, but all work has now been put on hold.

According to a June 13 letter from the city’s Office of Contract Administration, the city will conduct further research into the future of the project, including market conditions and the construction environment, in the coming months.

Brian Roberts, a policy analyst with the Department of Technology, told The Examiner that the public would be notified of proposed next steps for the project once the research is complete.

San Franciscos’s incoming mayor, London Breed, will be left in charge of the project. Breed will take office on July 11.

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