City IT workers have begun mapping out existing underground conduits to see if there's enough room for another company - or the city itself - to lay the cables needed to bring competitive high-speed broadband to Boston, City Councilor Matt O'Malley (Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury) said today.
The council voted unanimously today to support efforts to stir up broadband competition in Boston by a company that could wire up large portions of the city, following a hearing at which Verizon said Boston can forget about ever getting FiOS as an alternative to Comcast's service.
O'Malley, who said he's still using DSL, said the issue is greater than just giving consumers another choice, because Boston's knowledge-based economy depends on access to high-speed Internet.
He said that while he found Verizon's answer "enormously disappointing," said there are other companies that might be interested in wiring up the city, and that City Hall has not ruled out setting up a municipal broadband network.
City Councilor Frank Baker (Dorchester) blasted Verizon, a company he said nets "a billion dollars a month" for disrespecting Boston and cheaping out on the roughly $500 million he estimated it would cost to fully cable the city. He continued he knows why: "This is union busting," because Verizon doesn't want to hire union electricians to lay the cables, he said. "This is union busting at its finest."
City Councilor Tito Jackson (Roxbury), said the city should explore alternatives to fiber-optic service, including high-speed wireless - ironically, an area in which Verizon has said it is concentrating rather than on expanding FiOS - and broadband over power lines.
None of the councilors mentioned RCN, which competes with Comcast in parts of Boston.