February 1, 2020
As you may know, the Rancho Santa Fe Association, an HOA that covers approximately 2,000 homes, built RSF Connect, a gigabit fiber optic network for Internet connectivity available to all members. There are dozens of small communities adjacent to this HOA (which is often called the Covenant referencing the incorporation/governing document) who do not have access to this network. This map, prepared by First American Title shows these communities.
Can RSF Connect Be Extended
A question I’ve frequently received from people outside the Covenant is whether or not RSF Connect can be extended to service them. From a technical perspective, there is no reason why it cannot. From a policy perspective the RSF Association has so far decided that the network will be exclusively for Covenant members.
The RSF Association paid for the $17M construction of the fiber network and owns it outright. Financing is partially from HOA member dues, and partially through a $65/month customer usage surcharge. It is expected that the member dues and surcharge will last about ten more years at which point the construction bank loan should be paid off.
Since HOA members have paid for its construction, it wouldn’t make sense to provide carriage on the fiber network to non HOA members without significant compensation (on the order of the $10,000 per household cost of the network). While you could easily envision a cost recovery mechanism for non Covenant households, the Association does not want to entertain such a possibility a couple of reasons. First, it is mission creep for an HOA to provide services to non HOA members resulting in potential legal ramifications. Second, like the Rancho Santa Fe golf course, which only Covenant members can join, RSF Connect is another desirable reason to live in the Covenant enhancing all member’s property values.
One possibility that some individual houses and smaller HOAs have considered is to request annexation into Rancho Santa Fe. This would work if annexation would be granted. But the Association has strict guidelines for allowing annexation including minimum lot sizes, house aesthetics and size, etc. Annexation has occurred from time to time through the years, but only when specific criteria are met.
Savior From Space
As of late 2022, Starlink is offering Internet at speeds from 50 Mbps to 250 Mbps in this area. Older satellite broadband services (like Viasat Internet) are usually the last resort for high speed Internet since the speeds aren’t very good, they have data caps, and their latency is really high, at least 500 ms, making web browsing a chore.
Starlink is different. With a huge constellation of low earth orbit satellites, latency is down in the 30 ms range and has typically 100 Mbps service. While a hardwired connection will still likely be superior (price/bandwidth/latency), this is a decent service for those with no other good options. The only caveat is that you need unrestricted views to the entire northern sky (30 degrees from the horizon and up), which usually means mounting their antenna on a rooftop or mast.
Solana Beach and Encinitas
Ting Internet is an all fiber network which provides true gigabit Internet to Solana Beach and Encinitas. Highly recommended if you live in their service area.
There, now you know as much as I do about alternative Internet access methods. Questions? Please ask using our contact form, or start a discussion in our community discussion forums.