CTN loves to see corporate-nonprofit partnerships providing access to the Internet in San Francisco’s most disadvantaged communities. Therefore, we were delighted to learn of a new initiative between Monkeybrains and the San Francisco Housing Development Corporation (SFHDC), partly funded by a grant from the California Public Utilities Commission.
This partnership is a match made in heaven. The oddly named Monkeybrains is a company that provides fast Internet service via wireless antenna, and the SFHDC is a nonprofit that provides income-subsidized housing. Together, they are providing free gigabit Internet service to 1,000 homes in the Hunters Point East and West housing complex. By the end of 2017, the plan is to serve another 1,000 SFHDC homes in the Tenderloin and Bayview areas of the city.
What’s innovative about this project is that, rather than the buildings being wired, each unit gets its own fiber-speed wireless connection. But of course, few things remain free forever, and the the no-cost high-speed Internet access will end after two years. However, Monkeybrains is committed to charging program participants no more than $20 per month to continue the service. If you compare this to the $70 per month that Verizon charges for gigabit service, we think that’s pretty good. The residents also have to pay for their own router, which is not ideal but is understandable.
CTN will be partnering with SFHDC to provide digital skills training to their adult residents. So not only will they know how to connect to this superfast connection, they will also know how to use it safely and independently.
CTN believes that with infrastructure budgets tightening across the board, these kinds of public-private collaborations are essential to the survival of the vision of digital inclusion for all, and we applaud companies that join the fight for equal digital rights. Well done, Monkeybrains!