Providing internet service to residents of San Francisco comes with high expectations.
Peek inside one of the city’s apartment buildings on any given evening, and you may find a software engineer working on an urgent deadline, a family preparing to settle in for a movie night or a gaggle of roommates, all logged on in their rooms with their own needs in mind. These are the customers that co-founders Rudy Rucker and Alex Menendez seek to serve with Monkeybrains.
Founded in 1998, the colorfully named San Francisco company’s humble origins saw the operation begin as a dial-up ISP operated out of a warehouse. Run with just a few desktop computers connected to some modems, Monkeybrains finally moved from its original home to a proper data center in the early 2000s. From its new location, the ISP was able to launch web hosting and colocation services, followed in 2009 by its bold entry into the world of providing wireless internet access.
Celebrating 25 years in business this year, Monkeybrains prides itself on providing affordable, hassle-free internet service to both residents and businesses in San Francisco. Available to residents for as little as $35 per month, Monkeybrains keeps things simple with month-to-month contracts and minimal wait times for installations. And of course, the service’s reliability and speed continue to remain top priorities for the local ISP.
During this impressive tenure, Monkeybrains has also prioritized charitable contributions to local causes. In 2023 alone, they’ve donated over $100,000 to a range of organizations, including the LatinX Democratic Club, Empower Me Academy’s youth basketball tournament, Fiesta de las Américas, the Harvey Milk Democratic Club, the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club, SF Parks Alliance, Carnaval 2023, Folsom Street Faire, and SF PRIDE.
Additionally, Monkeybrains also participates in the Vacant to Vibrant program, which provides free internet for participating "activators." In total, Monkeybrains currently operates a hybrid network of fiber optic and high-capacity wireless links that service over 20,000 locations. With over 100 new clients being added every week, the company’s goal is to “push the limits of available technology” while simultaneously overdelivering on bandwidth.
Another highlight of Monkeybrains’ operations is their Fiber to Housing Partnership with the City and County of San Francisco, which currently provides free high-speed internet to over 3,500 units of affordable housing across the city—and with many more to come soon. In the interim, San Francisco affordable housing residents are encouraged to check the FTH Partnership’s website to see if they may already have free internet.
According to a 2019 estimate, Monkeybrains' collaboration with the City and County of San Francisco is expected to provide a service benefit of “some $400 million” over a period of 20 years. The company also rose to the challenge at the onset of the Covid pandemic, where Monkeybrains worked with the city to provide internet for essential workers at emergency Covid shelters.
Partnering with San Francisco’s Department of Technology, the company was able to build the necessary links in record time, providing internet services to an estimated six emergency hospitals in the area. That’s the big stuff. But Monkeybrains isn’t only committed to showing up for the community in large ways—it wants to be there for its customers for the small things as well.
In practical terms, that means a friendly local support team who will actually answer the phone when you call, speedy installation services, and no contracts obligating anyone to stay. But while many companies are leaving the city, Monkeybrains is doubling down and customers have stayed, thanks to their impeccable reputation and rare success as a locally born ISP competing against the corporate goliaths in the field.
Monkeybrains is a supporter of net neutrality, a neighbor to the customers it serves and perennially focused on delivering the best internet experience at an affordable price. The time’s never been better to check to see if Monkeybrains’ services are available in your area.