Boston wants to start asking developers if their projects will give residents a broadband choice

The BPDA is looking to begin asking developers of large residential projects whether their buildings will give residents a choice of at least two ways to get broadband - including wirelessly.

Answering the proposed "broadband readiness" questionnaire would be required for developers of projects of 50,000 or more square feet.

According to the BPDA, the reasons to ask developers what steps they're taking to broadband-enable their units are:

Enable an environment of competition and choice that results in all residents and businesses having a choice of 2 or more wireline or fixed wireless high-speed Internet providers;

Create a built environment that is responsive to new and emerging connectivity technologies;

Minimize disruption to the public right of way during and after construction of the building.

Because broadband providers have started looking at using wireless instead of cables or wires to provide broadband service, developers would be asked whether their units would be ready for wireless access, including whether they plan to do any radio testing within units and whether they would set aside space for the sort of wireless booster equipment that now increasingly clog up Boston sidewalks.

Article 80 Broadband Ready Buildings Questionnaire (133k PDF).



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This is a great idea! Almost

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This is a great idea! Almost all new complexes in Boston can get either/both NetBLAZR (local Boston start-up) or Google Webpass, both of which currently offer about 300meg/sec connections for $60/month.

The only reason for developers to NOT offer this option (beyond simply Comcast) is that Comcast has been offering $ to companies for exclusivity to the building. Since it's likely harder to outlaw that behavior, better to just require a second broadband option.

(Disclaimer: I just moved to a building & got NetBLAZR installed a few months ago. The service is FAR superior to Comcast, as was the quality of the tech when they came to set-up)

Maybe RCN?

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I think RCN still has a tiny presence here. There are neighborhoods with RCN lines [at least there were when they first started trying to expand]. But even if the line goes right in front of your building, the building must opt in to having the line branch to the building itself. Many buildings' management did not see the value in such, even if offered freely.

RCN is still here in some

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RCN is still here in some cities/neighborhoods (e.g. Somerville).

But you're right that even in areas where they "compete" with Comcast/Verizon, most buildings still only have one or the other as an option.

They're around

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We had them in Somerville around Davis Square, and now in Lower Allston. I wouldn't call it a tiny presence, but they're definitely struggling against Comcast.


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I had RCN when I lived in Lower Allston.
Then I moved to east Fenway and we only have Comcast.

Off topic:

BlackKat: I love your screen name. As you might be able to tell from my own, I love cats. And I REALLY love black cats.

Kickback to Verizon

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Aren't they filling out a (poorer) FiOS wireless network in the dense neighborhoods rather than expand fiber?

Probably kickbacks to get large building to wire their insides and provide service.

In Dorchester we just

In Dorchester we just switched to Verizon from Comcast. It's the real deal - gigabit fiber. Our neighborhood was wired this summer.

Aren't they filling out a

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Aren't they filling out a (poorer) FiOS wireless network in the dense neighborhoods rather than expand fiber?

That was a conspiracy theory by some guy (who everyone believed for some reason) that has pretty much been disproven by how the FiOS rollout has been done in reality.

The only question

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I care about is asking them if they actually plan on filling the units and not leaving them empty. We need more housing and less red tape.


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In 2005 I bought a condo in a brand new BRA-developed building. Only choice was Comcast. Their monopoly was hardwired into the building.

Well… there's reason for optimism

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A good effort, but regardless at least here in Cambridge my building for the past 1-2 years has offered in addition to Comcast which is at least for me 300Mbps for $60 / month. The big deal is that wireless tech is getting fast enough deployment of things like this no longer depends on tearing up the roads -- its effectively a giant gigabit antenna.

So after years of emailing local councilman Craig Kelly asking what Cambridge is doing to prevent other companies (namely RCN) from coming into the area (he says there's no exclusive deals w/ Comcast, just no others choose to enter the market -- makes me think its simply too expensive to get access to running cables for all the normal regulatory/phone pole access reasons), it seems technology might finally able to fix the broken market for broadband.

It's easier for large apartment buildings, but you can still get it for home as well (though not nearly as fast speeds). is another up and coming Fiber->wireless service.

Still, in 5 years though, we might all just be using our cellphone plans anyway.

Walsh and Jackson

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work or activity that is wasteful or pointless but gives the appearance of having value.

I think Walsh and Jackson should both be mayor, Jackson would pick up where Walsh failed to break-up the ever ridiculous BPDA.

Question: can a condo

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Question: can a condo building be its own ISP? Can a condo association get a single fat internet connection, run ethernet to every unit, and absorb the cost into the condo fee? Or do regulations not allow that?

My (rental) building used to

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buy business internet service from Comcast and ran it to whomever in the building wanted it. Only $25/mo (albeit kind of slow). But doing tech support, usually not internet-related ("my printer won't print!"), for every idiot in the building wasn't worth it for them so they handed it off to Comcast. Now it's $80/mo for the same slow service. Webpass is now available in the building but I'm still locked into a contract with Comcast to get it down to $50/mo.

It's my understanding that

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It's my understanding that the law that authorizes the state department of public utilities to regulate telecommunications precludes municipalities from doing so. A home rule exception might be necessary to forestall a court challenge. Additionally the FCC regulations against municipal telecommunications service providers (that helped stop Boston's wireless broadband plans) could conceivably thwart this. Overall, it's on shaky legal ground.

Also, to answer the question above about a condo operating as their own ISP, they can do so but they cannot require tenants to subscribe or prevent tenants from using competing services, and they would be required to file papers with the feds and the state as a service provider in order to resell service, the alternative being to offer free service that is procured at retail (and probably in violation of service agreement clauses.)

So is the city 'asking the

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So is the city 'asking the question,' or are they extorting dual service out of the developers?