AT&T Sued by SF Enviro Groups Angry About Cable, Internet Boxes

By Chris Roberts
|  Thursday, Aug 25, 2011  |  Updated 8:13 AM PDT
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AT&T Sued by SF Enviro Groups Angry About Cable, Internet Boxes

Utility boxes slightly bigger than this one -- and not nearly so colorful -- would have filled San Francisco streets in order to carry AT&T's new Lightspeed cable/Internet service, a project halted by a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

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All AT&T wants to do is give San Francisco an option other than Comcast for high-speed Internet and cable television. And all San Francisco Beautiful wants to do is litigate.

The environmental group has long opposed to AT&T's plans to install 726 utility boxes -- four feet tall by four feet wide and two feet deep -- on public rights of way, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, claiming that they pose an environmental hazard. At the very least, environmental review is required, they claim -- a view not held by San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which voted 6-5 earlier this summer to allow AT&T to begin construction without a full environmental impact review.

San Francisco Beautiful filed suit in SF Superior Court on Wednesday to stop the project or at least force AT&T to conduct a lengthy and costly environmental report.

AT&T did not comment on the lawsuit, saying only that the Lightspeed service -- available in other American cities that did not quite have the problem with the utility boxes that San Francisco does -- is about "choice."

Milo Hanke, a past president of San Francisco Beautiful, says it's about "objective review." In any case, at this point it's about lawyers.

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