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AT&T To Propose Fewer Boxes In SF Network Upgrade

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AT&T Utility Box. (CBS)

AT&T Utility Box. (CBS)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will again consider a proposal by AT&T to upgrade its network by installing hundreds of boxes around the city to house the technology.

The board has twice delayed a vote on the company’s plan, and after the second continuance last month, AT&T said it will propose a scaled-back version of the proposal, which had included the installation of 726 4-foot-tall boxes.

The boxes would house the company’s “Lightspeed” high-speed data transmission technology that would improve its U-verse Internet, cable and landline phone service in the city.

In February, San Francisco’s Planning Department gave the project an exemption from the usually lengthy environmental review process, but opponents appealed the exemption to the board, saying the boxes would impede pedestrian traffic, inconvenience property owners and reduce the aesthetic appeal of the city.

The opponents—which include San Francisco Beautiful and the Planning Association of the Richmond—have said the cumulative impact of the hundreds of boxes is enough to warrant the environmental review, so AT&T spokesman Lane Kasselman said the company is paring down the total number of boxes in the proposal.

Kasselman said Monday that AT&T officials “have been meeting with most of the supervisors and come up with some specifics that may be amenable to some of them,” and said “we’re looking forward to having a significant amount of support” for the plan at Tuesday’s meeting.

When the issue first came in front of the board at its April 26 meeting, AT&T officials also pointed out that the company would still have to get a permit from the city’s Department of Public Works for each individual box, and would work around neighborhoods that did not want the boxes.

Supervisor Scott Wiener, when announcing the most recent delay of a vote on the project last month, said, “I hope (AT&T) will think outside the box, literally and figuratively, and come up with something we can live with.”

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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