Broadband Communities

MAY-JUN 2019

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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FIBER DEPLOYMENT 2 6 | B R O A D B A N D C O M M U N I T I E S | w w w. b r o a d b a n d c o m m u n i t i e s . c o m | M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 9 A Digital Inclusion Blueprint For Public Housing Monkeybrains and the city of San Francisco partnered to deliver gigabit service to public-housing residents. By Hannah Rank and Christopher Mitchell / Institute for Local Self-Reliance U rban areas today have nearly universal, albeit pricey, broadband internet access from cable companies and other service providers, with the number of providers varying from neighborhood to neighborhood. Fewer options are available to those who have less capacity to pay for service. Many low-income households simply cannot pay for decent internet access. In two a•ordable housing complexes in San Francisco near the heart of the tech industry, Hunters Point East and West (HPEW) and Robert B. Pitts Apartments, few residents could a•ord high-quality internet service until Monkeybrains, an internet service provider (ISP) that has operated in San Francisco for 20 years, partnered with the city to provide 100 Mbps connectivity in HPEW and 1 Gbps connectivity in Robert B. Pitts. Despite nationwide e•orts to close the digital divide, at least one-‹fth of Americans who do not use the internet cite the prohibitive costs associated with access. Œe program to connect HPEW and Robert B. Pitts to high- speed internet shows how innovative thinking, organization and commitment from various stakeholders can make high-quality internet access a reality for low-income households. As San Francisco continues on its path to shrink the digital divide, other municipalities could use this model and follow suit. BIDDING ON HPEW Œe nonpro‹t San Francisco Housing Development Corporation (SFHDC) took over Hunters Point East and West in 2014, making the complex eligible for Rental Assistance Demonstration, a HUD program that helps transfer low-income housing from public to private ownership. SFHDC was formed in the late 1980s by residents frustrated with the displacement of people of color in their community. Along with Œe John Stewart Company, a housing developer, SFHDC started renovating the complexes in 2016 and then began temporarily relocating residents and soliciting bids to update the buildings' internet connectivity. Monkeybrains wasn't aware of the upgrades sought at HPEW until Preston Rhea, its director of ‹eld operations, caught wind of the bid request through his work on the Community Tech Network (CTN) board of directors. CTN, a nonpro‹t digital literacy trainng organization, was working with SFHDC to develop training for residents of its housing complexes, including HPEW. Comcast had already bid on the HPEW project, proposing a single Wi-Fi access point for each building for approximately $200 per month. For the 27 buildings, HPEW would rack up an estimated yearly bill of nearly $65,000. Monkeybrains sta• knew they could o•er a better solution at a much lower price point that would provide far better access for everyone in HPEW for years to come. Monkeybrains o•ered free installation of wireless access points as well as wired access to each individual unit. SFHDC would pay $10 per month per unit to Monkeybrains for the

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