Supervisor Farrell Forms Municipal Fiber Blue Ribbon Panel

Today Supervisor Mark Farrell announced the formation of the San Francisco Municipal Fiber Blue Ribbon Panel. The panel – composed of nationally recognized Internet access, business, and privacy experts – will make recommendations about how to bring fast and affordable Internet to San Francisco.

“My goal is to bring fast and affordable Internet access to the entire city, and so I am bringing together the world’s best experts to help answer key questions and provide recommendations,” said Farrell. “Collectively this panel has spent decades analyzing the toughest issues around developing municipal fiber networks, closing the digital divide, and protecting consumer privacy.”

“More than a decade has passed since San Francisco began considering its fiber options; meanwhile, inexpensive, competitive, symmetric fiber-optic Internet access has become standard in several Asian and Northern European countries,” said Susan Crawford. “I am honored to serve as co-chair of this Advisory Group, and look forward to encouraging San Franciscans to support the long-term planning and visionary leadership necessary to help the city lead the country in connectivity.” 

The panel will be co-chaired by Professor Susan Crawford and Farrell. Michael Bennon, the managing director of Stanford’s Global Project’s Center, will be the panel’s steering committee administrator. No panel participants are being paid to participate.

The Blue Ribbon panel will complement the work of San Franciscans for Municipal Fiber, which Farrell and former Supervisor Eric Mar launched a few weeks ago. 

Farrell said the panel aims to issue reports about the benefits, tradeoffs, and complementary nature of fiber and wireless Internet access options; the benefits and tradeoffs of public, private, wholesale, and public-private models for municipal fiber approaches; the benefits and pitfalls of a utility versus a demand-based model, revenue generating opportunities that might stem from, for example, leasing basic, unlit fiber or establishing neutral interconnection points for future competing wireless services, and network security, and privacy and First Amendment protections.

The panel has three subcommittees: the technology and infrastructure subcommittee, the privacy and governance subcommittee, and the finance and revenue subcommittee.
 

Technology and Infrastructure Subcommittee

 Allan Hammond, a Santa Clara law professor and director of the Broadband Institute of California, will chair. Members include former California Public Utilities Commissioner and Santa Clara Law Professor Catherine Sandoval, and Julie Kim and Dr. Rajiv Sharma from Stanford’s Global Projects Center.

Privacy and Governance Subcommittee

University of California Professor Lisa Ho will chair. Members include University of San Francisco Law Professor Susan Freiwald and San Francisco State Professor Hao Yue.
 

Finance and Revenue Subcommittee

 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Rahul Chopra will chair. Support will be provided by the Harvard Business School’s Community Partners Program.

The panel will also be supported by Civic Sector Advisory members, which include Open Society Foundation Fellow and former Counselor to Chair Tom Wheeler of the Federal Communications Commission Gigi Sohn, and staff attorney to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Kit Walsh.

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