Over the years several communities have gotten upset
about the AT&T VRAD cabinets required to deliver the company's U-Verse FTTN/VDSL service. In some areas, complaints involved anger of AT&T ignoring easement rights or childhood traffic dangers, while in other markets the complaints have been aesthetic or property-value driven. In Illinois, groups like Stop The Box
fought to have a say in VRAD placement, with AT&T finally going so far as to agree to pay $1,500-$2000 for landscaping surrounding each box
In San Francisco, community opposition to installing 725 six-foot-tall utility cabinets was so heated, AT&T ultimately backed off of a significant expansion. Several years ago AT&T decided to try again, and in July of 2011 the city voted to approve the installation of 726 U-Verse cabinets.
Debate still rages however over efforts to get AT&T to go above and beyond just plunking down the cabinets wherever they'd like. A new bit of proposed legislation
, for example, is seeing heated resistance from AT&T
because it would require the company to "at least try" to obscure the boxes and seek public feedback:
Wiener’s legislation would require companies to at least try to place new boxes off public streets (such as underground, on private properties or in alleyways), to force them to allow artwork on the boxes and to pay for greening around them. It would also require AT&T and other utility companies installing new boxes to propose multiple locations and hold a public meeting as part of a “pre-application” process so neighbors can weigh in ahead of time.
AT&T has now escalated the feud further by suing the city of San Francisco
. AT&T has only installed about 200 of the 726 cabinets, and claims the city since last fall denied permits for 26 of the boxes without specifying alternate locations, and has taken more than 60 days to rule on another 67 permits. Most of the money slated for the fixed-line portion of AT&T's "VIP initiative" is slated for use in San Francisco.