AT&T is planning on installing new "street-level communications cabinets" on sidewalks throughout the city. [...] To be clear, they will not be replacing their current boxes. Rather, they will be installing an additional box at each location that will be about four feet long that will connect to the old boxes. AT&T may also be "upgrading" many of the existing boxes, which will now be 5'5" tall by 26" deep. AT&T plans to place the new boxes 18 inches from the curb. The company says that they are unable to place the boxes underground because it would require fans and ventilation to protect the sensitive fibers.
A number of San Francisco neighborhoods have already fought the project; see this article from August, which suggests that they had backed down on their plan. But based on the recent community meeting, they seem to be moving forward again. State law prohibits localities, including San Francisco, from preventing this project.
AT&T's rival Comcast Corp., the nation's largest cable company, apparently thought so too. It ran ads in Illinois calling the cabinets "giant utility boxes." AT&T didn't think it was funny and sued Comcast in March for running a "false, deceptive and disparaging advertising campaign." The companies signed a standstill agreement in May.
Goldberg noted that Verizon Communications Inc. was able to bury its fiber-optic boxes underground in town -- a fact the phone company was more than eager to confirm.