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Microtrenching or other workarounds in SF?

Posted: Sun Dec 15, 2019 1:13 pm
by adamlang
I saw that there were some expansion efforts in the Nob Hill/Russian Hill/Chinatown/North Beach nexus.. I assume that these expansions are limited to areas with above-ground utilities, since I am basically the exact center of gravity for that area, but am on an underground-utilities block and didn't get a notification/offer. (Are there any coverage maps anywhere? I can't find them.)

I haven't heard anything new on microtrenching and the SFPUC, so I assume that we are still where we were for the last three years: considering allowing microtrenching but only in ways that make it useless. If so, is there any real, tangible reason to believe that they will change their minds in the next decade? I don't mean 'we are trying to work with them', I mean actual evidence that they are listening and may actually act on that advice. If not, are there any other options that are under active consideration?

I am honestly trying to decide if I should just move out of the bay area entirely. I'm living in a nice rent controlled place in San Francisco, but I have exactly the same internet options I had when I moved in, nearly two decades ago:
* 4 mbps/256 kbps Sonic (or AT&T): only one working phone connection to my unit so I can't duplex
* Comcast that is completely intermittent (cuts out for seconds to minutes, multiple times a day, possibly related to the amount of bandwidth I'm using at the time) and which they refuse to fix and anyway I loathe that company; or
* 8 mbps monkeybrains residential with a high up-front cost.
* cellular home internet, mostly with a cap, maxing out around ~10 mbps here for the one I tried. (Okay, okay, so this one is a bit faster than it was when I moved in.)

As far as I know, even if I were willing to pay ten thousand dollars in up-front costs and five hundred a month, that's literally all I could get without buying ten cellular services and rolling my own multilink PPP over them. Which sounds like just a truckload of fun. And there is literally no statement from any company that I have talked to that suggests they will be offering anything different ten years from now, aside from cellular, which who knows but which probably won't be unlimited data.

With my new job, none of my options will be good enough to allow me to work from home... none except comcast are fast enough for the data and db connections I need, and with comcast I can't keep a VPN going, and even if the cell service gets fast enough, with a data cap it'll be useless.

And I can't afford to move elsewhere in the city, due to the huge spike in rents since I moved in. And if I'm going to move out of the city, I'm going to just leave the area, and probably the country. I'm tired of the US.

I've lived in an RV with a single 110 volt 20 amp plug providing power to the whole thing, for a week. I couldn't run the lights and the microwave at the same time, and I couldn't run the refrigerator off of electricity at all. At this point, having 4 mbps internet feels like that. Why would I live like that for any extended period of time?

So. Is there any hope for me? Or should I just get the hell out of here?

Re: Microtrenching or other workarounds in SF?

Posted: Wed Dec 18, 2019 3:28 pm
by bubba198
Just curious.. why "and with Comcast I can't keep a VPN going" ?

I had Comcast for over a decade before Sonic came to the Sunset and pretty much every bit that that went in or out of the cable modem was IPsec traffic. All my work was over VPN and Comcast was decent, it will drop the tunnel now and then but for the most part it was solid.

The VPN was NOT a "soft client" stuff, it was ASA hardware based at the very border of my home network so even if it dropped I would never see it unless I dig into logs for my own entertainment

Re: Microtrenching or other workarounds in SF?

Posted: Tue Dec 24, 2019 8:27 pm
by george.belle
I have bonded DSL so get about 85 Mb down, but even that is getting to be really slow in this era of 100+ GB game downloads.
I also live in an area of SF (on Guerrero) with buried utilities. I emailed my supervisor earlier this year to ask about microtrenching, and the response was they they would look into the issue. I don't have any expectations that anything is going to happen with it.
We really need someone to champion the need to allow companies to microtrench, but sadly I don't see anyone carrying that torch.

Re: Microtrenching or other workarounds in SF?

Posted: Tue Dec 24, 2019 9:26 pm
by adamlang
bubba198 wrote:
Just curious.. why "and with Comcast I can't keep a VPN going" ?

I had them for a while. The service would drop out for seconds to a couple minutes every hour or two. Some days more frequently, some days not at all. Comcast sent a guy out several times but was unable to reproduce it and repeatedly gave me silly explanations (sunspots, interference from microwave ovens, you name it) and eventually I just gave up.

Re: Microtrenching or other workarounds in SF?

Posted: Wed Dec 25, 2019 8:14 am
by bubba198
@adamlang I hope Sonic fiber comes to you soon. The difference is significant as one would expect. I was recently visiting someone in Cox territory (SoCal) and they sell "fiber speeds" coax service - the download comes close, sure around 900 but the upload is stuck at 50Mbps or so LOL someone needs to let them know that fiber speeds also means fast upload :)

Re: Microtrenching or other workarounds in SF?

Posted: Wed Feb 19, 2020 10:26 am
by Pepe
One significant indicator of how important fiber deployment is to the current administration of SF: the complete removal of the content for the fiber initiative project conducted in 2017. When I asked how to access it, the response from SF IT was that you can't - it wasn't migrated to the new web servers hosted at .gov now from the previous .org domain. (another directive which never made any sense to me since they are clearly a governmental entity, but whatever...)

Another interesting fiber related issue I encountered last year was my "discovery" that AT&T fiber was now available at my address by checking availability at (which I usually do 1-2 times a year) but hadn't received any notification via phone/email/door hangers of the new service. Needless to say, I was extremely skeptical about fiber actually being available but decided to place an order to get a better perspective how this process is executed and what progress had actually been made in its deployment here in SF. To make a long story short, after countless phone calls/emails, consultation with the CPUC, escalations to various AT&T departments (which resulted in working with the office of the president for a resolution) only to learn that my "availability" was simply a clerical error; fiber was never deployed for my block and there is no official time frame on when or if it would be.

A few months afterward, I came across this article ... ses-137158 which provided another explanation on why this may have occurred. Needless to say, I am very pessimistic that I'll ever get fiber access in my area of SF.

Re: Microtrenching or other workarounds in SF?

Posted: Wed Feb 26, 2020 7:02 pm
by flex-brannigan
I was looking at 5G residential internet options today and it looks like Verizon is starting to rollout 5G residential in a few cities, but unfortunately San Francisco isn't one of them. Prices look reasonable — $50/month for unlimited data and speeds between 300 Mbps and 1Gbps, depending on location. If you're an existing Verizon customer you get a bundled discount that will save you $20/mo.