Perhaps reinforcing the idea that the divide between the haves and have-nots of San Francisco is very stark and wide these days, a new report by the city estimates that about an eighth of the population here, or 100,000 people, lack internet connections in their homes. It's a surprising figure just given how techie San Francisco is portrayed as being these days, but this almost crazier: There are some 50,000 people who are still on dial-up connections! Dial-up!
Anyone old enough to remember this?
It should go without saying, but the report confirms that those without home internet connections tend to have lower incomes, and are typically older, less educated, and/or are people of color.
The study was done by city budget analyst Harvey Rose, and as the Examiner reports, it was requested by Supervisor Eric Mar after the Mayor submitted his five-year technology plan, which was part of the budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Mar says "The city can have a much broader vision of digital inclusion like we did years ago," and he's hoping that the mayor will champion a plan for a municipal broadband network something that was previously studied back in 2007 at the request of then supervisor Tom Ammiano.
Affordability and accessibility of good internet service were cited as the main reasons for not having connections. A municipal broadband network, while expensive, would potentially level the field for people in providing discounted broadband connections, and provide a new revenue stream for the city.
Currently, the mayor has no plan for a municipal broadband network and that free citywide wi-fi we were promised years ago never really materialized, though there is city-sponsored free wi-fi in 32 public parks and along the Market Street corridor, though it doesn't always work. It was estimated, at least eight years ago, that a citywide municipal broadband network would cost $560 million and take 15 years to construct. Mar hopes it could still happen within 10 years.
Read the full report embedded here.