Webpass Advocates for Comprehensive Approach to Faster Internet Speeds in San Francisco

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Charles Barr, President of Internet Service Provider, Webpass, proposes an Internet Franchise Ordinance that, if approved, would improve Internet connection speeds and service to San Franciscans.

Webpass team doing fieldwork in San Francisco.

“Our Internet Franchise Ordinance proposal is the best method to improve Internet connection speeds at the city level so that excellent Internet service is no longer confined to a few cities in the US," committed Mr. Barr.

On March 17th, Charles Barr, President of Webpass, a San Francisco-based Internet Service Provider, addressed the San Francisco Planning Commission with a proposal for a new Internet Franchise Ordinance that provides a comprehensive and standardized process for all Internet infrastructure.

The current regulatory environment for Internet Service Providers in San Francisco was actually established for phone and cable providers. Since those regulations were established pre-Internet, they were not designed with Internet access in mind, and consequently inhibit ISPs, many with better Internet services than the phone and cable providers, from competing effectively. By adopting the proposed Internet Franchise Ordinance, San Francisco would be creating a legal landscape designed for Internet, effectively lifting roadblocks and ensuring a level playing field for all competition.

"Unfortunately, there is no competition in this market, other than companies like Webpass, because it is incredibly difficult to navigate four different regulatory schemes.  We have to navigate the telephone regulatory scheme, the cable regulatory scheme, the fiber regulatory scheme and the wireless regulatory scheme to deliver one product, which is the Internet,”
stated Mr. Barr to the Planning Commission.

The Internet Franchise Ordinance proposed by Webpass would allow Internet providers who have been approved for a city franchise to benefit from a streamlined permit process, the details of which would be developed by the Planning Commission.  The permit process would not be applied on a case-by-case basis, but would apply equally to all approved franchised Internet providers for all Internet infrastructure deployment.  

Included in the Internet Franchise Ordinance is that Internet service would be declared a competitive public utility in San Francisco and would require developers and property owners to include Internet-grade cabling in their buildings, just as they must include electric wiring.

The ordinance would also require landlords to give any Internet company approved for a city franchise the access to provide service to tenants who request their Internet service, effectively banning exclusionary practices by landlords, such as revenue share agreements that limit a person’s rights to the Internet service of their choice.

Internet service provider franchisees would also be granted the right to access utility poles and conduit to build their infrastructure via a streamlined process.

While there have been piecemeal proposals presented to the Planning Commission that may be of some benefit to the existing process, Webpass continues to champion a comprehensive and standardized process for San Francisco not just modifications to a fragmented regulatory system. “Our Internet Franchise Ordinance proposal is the best method to improve Internet connection speeds at the city level so that excellent Internet service is no longer confined to a few cities in the US," committed Mr. Barr. It is the hope of Webpass that the Planning Commission will vote to take this more comprehensive approach as well.

Webpass is enlisting support from all San Franciscans who want access to better Internet options. The community can find out more about, and show its support for, the proposed Internet Franchise Ordinance by clicking on the red button “Ask your district supervisors for better Internet service” at https://webpass.net/franchise. They can also show their support at Change.org by signing the "San Francisco Needs Better Internet" petition to Mayor Edwin Lee here at http://tinyurl.com/h8kr8b2.

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Caitlin Sonnichsen
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