In their relentless search for better connectivity in the Upper Haight, home to the President of the company, AT&T has penned up to three leases to bring connectivity to the increasingly affluent area. Up until now one of the only reliable connectivity hotspots in the neighborhood has been provided by Comcast on a network called Unprotected Cex.
Unprotected Cex has a limited bandwidth, and has been one of the few wireless cell phone options to AT&T users in the area. The signal has about a three block radius; hint, go to Trax and look for grey hair and a red beard. But that hasn’t stopped business owners, clerks, restaurants, bartenders and anybody else who can find and take advantage of Unprotected Cex from hopping on to do their business. Many of whom are small business owners.
According to John and Lane of AT&T Communications, a company that has invested 2.4 billion in the San Francisco Bay Area over the last 3 years, AT&T is happy customers can get connectivity, regardless of the Unprotected Cex. And apparently, even the President of the company has to rely, partially, on a micro-cell to get connectivity. Or go outside. Good news, he’s since put the micro-cell in the garage. They didn’t comment on whether he’s run across the infamous network being used socially and for egalitarian purposes by the citizens of the birthplace of free love. But they where quick to say that AT&T is happy to work with customers on an individual basis to acquire micro-cells. I’m getting one so I’ll let you know how it works.
The sites are going to be on Haight, and Cole and another unnamed spot. The problem has been community opposition for all the traditional reasons, aesthetics, health, plus the man. But that seems to have changed. Putting in a cell site requires the consent of landlords, the city and the neighborhood. For a carrier to guarantee a signal they must have 24/7 access to the site, in case of any unforeseen problems that could shut it down. AT&T, who has been in the San Francisco neighborhoods for over 100 years just sees this as another challenge in the quest to hook us all up to a network that has the capacity to deliver what the Internet is bringing us to.
According to Lane, a 10 year resident of San Francisco, 2 days after they put nodes into Noe Valley, the place couldn’t do without them. And for the network that brought us the iPhone, it’s pretty cool that they don’t seem to mind about all the Unprotected Cex.