Don’t ban the box

FTTH cabinet in Sebastopol, CA

Last week the San Francisco Board of Supervisors reached a decision on proposed new cabinet infrastructure to be deployed by AT&T to deliver TV service in the city. The Board correctly concluded that the proposed utility cabinets in the existing utility right-of-way do not require an impact study under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and also exempted them from the city’s underground placement requirements.

Utility boxes can be unsightly. Our FTTx cabinets are generally small, and some of them can be mounted on poles, well above the reach of vandals and outside the flow of foot traffic. The image to the right shows an FTTH cabinet which is pole mounted.

Some though are larger and must be mounted on the ground, and when this is required, we are sensitive to the potential impact they have on sidewalk, foot traffic and views.

That said, we hope to assure equal treatment for our own infrastructure, which we plan to deploy in San Francisco.

In a recent letter to the Board, I wrote:

“… if the Board of Supervisors determines that it will affirm the exemption from environmental review, and from the city’s policy of underground placement, Sonic Telecom respectfully requests that the Board at the same time confirm that it will apply the same exemption standard to Sonic Telecom when it applies to install its own surface utility boxes adjacent to AT&T’s boxes, to permit Sonic Telecom to provide its own competitive telecommunications and data services.”

The expanded availability of new competitive services is important in any city. We hope that San Francisco will welcome on equal footing as we expand.