San Francisco Internet Access Facts & Statistics

San Francisco is the cradle of technology, but that technology doesn't always reach everyone in the Bay Area. As recently as 2018, 1 in 8 San Francisco residents didn't have home internet, and broadband access can be spotty in low-income areas — not to mention as a lifeline for the 8,000+ homeless population. The primary local residential providers are as follows:

Provider Network Primary network coverage Down Up
AT&T CaliforniaDSL, Fiber99%100 Mbps20 Mbps
ComcastCable, Fiber99%987 Mbps35 Mbps
Sonic.netDSL, Fiber81%80 Mbps20 Mbps
Raw Bandwidth CommunicationsDSL74%100 Mbps10 Mbps
WaveCable20%1000 Mbps20 Mbps
Vast NetworksFiber3%0 Mbps0 Mbps

Summary Fiber Access Infrastructure All providers

AT&T and Comcast Xfinity are the primary residential internet service options in San Francisco. Sonic provides a fiber alternative, as well as resold service over AT&T lines. AT&T also has been building out fiber. Between Sonic and AT&T, fiber to the home internet is available to more than half of blocks within city limits.

However, due to issues with MDU (Multi-Dweller Unit) access and provider focus on higher-income areas, many buildings are — de facto — limited to 1–2 wired broadband providers. This issue is compounded by the wealth disparity in San Francisco, such that even when available, many households cannot afford dedicated internet service and opt for mobile-only.

Summary of internet access in San Francisco

11
residential internet providers in San Francisco.
20
business-focused internet providers in San Francisco.
2–3
internet options for most homes in San Francisco.

We’ve found a total of 31 internet providers in San Francisco: 11 residential providers and 20 business-only providers.

However, only 11 of those companies offer service to more than 1% of the San Francisco population. 20 local companies offer niche business service to small coverage areas, mostly enterprise services in business districts.

Small business internet is commonly available from the same companies offering residential internet in San Francisco. 10 of the residential providers locally offer SMB (Small-Medium Business) services at this time.

Wired internet network coverage in San Francisco

Coverage by network type in San Francisco is as follows:

99.32%
Cable coverage in San Francisco.
99.53%
DSL coverage in San Francisco.
65.31%
Fiber coverage in San Francisco.

Local internet service options in San Francisco

AT&T and Xfinity are the main options for internet in San Francisco. However, there are alternatives, depending on your location within the city.

Most internet alternatives to Comcast in San Francisco are resellers, meaning that the resell service over AT&T lines. This is the result of regulation that requires AT&T to share their lines with other providers on a least basis — Xfinity’s coaxial lines are not subject to this requirement.

As a result, if you want AT&T service without the AT&T customer service experience, you can choose from:

  1. Sonic: local providers who also offers owned and operated fiber service in some parts of San Francisco. Their customer service is extremely pleasant relative to AT&T.
  2. Raw Bandwidth Communications: another local service providers offering a similar deal, with a special focus on customers who need home business services like static IP addresses.
  3. Earthlink: this provider recently re-launched as an AT&T reseller in the Bay Area. What they are selling now is true DSL or IPBB service, not dialup. However, they are servicing the whole country over AT&T/CenturyLink lines. Therefore, the quality of service is likely to be lower than the local resellers.

Fixed 5G internet options in San Francisco

Fixed 5G has recently become a third option for internet in San Francisco, with startups like Common (ex-Square employees). Established telecoms like Verizon are expected to be the major players in fixed home 5G — but as of 2020, they’ve yet to reach San Francisco. (Los Angeles and Sacramento are the only cities in California with substantial service currently.)

Fixed wireless internet options in San Francisco:

Provider brand nameNetworkFW coverageMaximum downloadMaximum upload
Etheric Networks, Inc.Fixed Wireless100%1000 Mbps1000 Mbps
Webpass, Inc.Fixed Wireless9%1000 Mbps1000 Mbps

2 Fixed Wireless Residential internet providers in San Francisco with at least 1% local coverage with their fixed wireless network. These providers may have other network types.

Fixed Wireless internet is mostly used for business service in San Francisco. However, Webpass (owned by Google) offers well-regarded residential service for MDUs.

Fiber internet options in San Francisco

Provider brand nameNetworkFiber coverageMaximum downloadMaximum upload
Sonic.netFiber39%1000 Mbps1000 Mbps
AT&T CaliforniaFiber36%1000 Mbps1000 Mbps
Webpass, Inc.Fiber2%1000 Mbps1000 Mbps

3 Fiber internet providers in San Francisco with at least 1% local coverage with their fiber network area. These providers may have other network types.

Sonic and AT&T provide FTTH (Fiber to the Home) service to more than half of San Francisco city blocks. As shown in the table above, each provider offers service to around a third of the area. Where available, fiber is the best internet option for most homes, as it offers low costs equivalent to cable/DSL service, and high download/upload speeds with unlimited data.

Infrastructure challenges to broadband internet access in San Francisco

San Francisco’s primary issue with internet access is the Digital Divide between high-income and low-income households. While the vast majority of homes in San Francisco have “access” to some form of internet service, the cost of that service is often prohibitive, particularly for robust service above 100 Mbps.

City studies and surveys have consistently found that while close to 98% of high-income households in San Francisco have broadband service access, 25% of low-income households do not have access. This situation has been improved somewhat in recent years thanks to the efforts of local startups like Common, but the issue has not been fully resolved. 1

Additionally, San Francisco has a large homeless population of close to 10,000 individuals, who for obvious reasons rely on mobile connectivity as a primarly lifeline for internet access. While numbers on how many homeless individuals have internet access are difficult to verify, nonprofits like ShelterTech and government programs like LifeLine are the largest means of connectivity. 2

All providers in San Francisco

Provider brand namePrimary networkPrimary network coverageMaximum downloadMaximum upload
Etheric Networks, Inc.Fixed Wireless100%1000 Mbps1000 Mbps
AT&T CaliforniaDSL99%100 Mbps20 Mbps
ComcastCable99%987 Mbps35 Mbps
Sonic.netDSL81%80 Mbps20 Mbps
Raw Bandwidth CommunicationsDSL74%100 Mbps10 Mbps
Crown Castle FiberFiber26%0 Mbps0 Mbps
WaveCable20%1000 Mbps20 Mbps
Webpass, Inc.Fixed Wireless9%1000 Mbps1000 Mbps
PAETEC Communications, Inc.DSL3%0 Mbps0 Mbps
Vast NetworksFiber3%0 Mbps0 Mbps
TPx CommunicationsFiber3%0 Mbps0 Mbps

11 residential and business internet providers in San Francisco with at least 1% local coverage with their primary network type.

Low-coverage providers in San Francisco

Provider brand namePrimary networkPrimary network coverageMaximum downloadMaximum upload
Race CommunicationsFiber0.1888%1000 Mbps1000 Mbps
Exwire Inc.Fixed Wireless0.0384%0 Mbps0 Mbps
Sidewinder Networks, LLCFixed Wireless0.0008%100 Mbps100 Mbps

3 residential internet providers in San Francisco with less than 1% local coverage. These are unlikely to be serviceable.

Page Summary
  • San Francisco has strong cable and fiber coverage by incumbent providers, but most broadband competition comes from resellers like Sonic, Earthlink, or Raw Bandwidth Communications rather than additional wired providers.
  • 1 in 8 San Francisco residents does not have broadband internet at home, according to polling conducted by the city in 2018.
  • low-income residents are 25% more likely to forego internet at home in favor of a mobile connection or none at all.

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Last Update: September 17, 2020
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