AT&T U-Verse runs into SF sidewalk politics

Efforts by AT&T to deploy high-speed U-verse service in San Francisco last year ran into residents' objections over sidewalk enclosures.

In existing construction AT&T U-Verse uses a fiber-to-the-node (FTTN) architecture to bring high-speed services closer to customer homes, and it delivers the last mile (well, last thousands of feet) over existing copper wiring. The approach is cheaper and faster to install than Verizon's fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) approach.

The San Francisco activists have a problem with the "node" box, an enclosure four feet tall, 50 inches wide and 26 inches deep required in each neighborhood, and another large piece of equipment potentially needed to power everything. AT&T would need as many as 850 boxes to cover the city.

In the narrow streets and sidewalks of San Francisco, such structures would be hazards and eyesores, say activists, blocking drivers' views at intersections, attracting graffiti and trash, and providing a hiding place for muggers.

Opponents say the boxes are obsolete and should go somewhere other than sidewalks. AT&T says there's no alternative, since putting them underground would require digging big holes and a controlled environment and an appeal for renting out public property got no takers.

For more:
- Computerworld discusses AT&T's SF deployment setbacks. Article.

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