Hey, there! Log in / Register

Boston city councilors want their FiOS

City Councilor Matt O'Malley (Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury) says Comcast just isn't cutting it for Boston and wants to look into ways to get Verizon to bring its fiber-optic connections into town - or other companies or utilities that might do so.

RCN isn't really competition enough for Comcast and with FiOS stopping at the city line, Boston is in danger of falling on the wrong side of the digital divide for a lack of competition, O'Malley said at a City Council meeting today.

O'Malley said he has seen his constituents "literally chase down" a passing Verizon truck to ask when the company was going to bring its Internet service to Boston. Verizon and former Mayor Thomas Menino famously clashed on the issue of a "pole tax" for new fiber-optic cables; then Verizon announced it had stopped rolling out FiOS in new communities altogether.

Among those in attendance at today's meeting: Dedham Selectman and Verizon employee Brendan Keogh, whom O'Malley said would be willing to work to bring Verizon officials to a hearing on the issue. Keogh said nothing, but smiled and nodded.

Other councilors agreed: Charles Yancey (Dorchester, Mattapan), said Bostonians should not become information "have nots." Councilor Tim McCarthy (Hyde Park, Roslindale, Mattapan) said the lack of serious broadband competition in Boston is becoming a serious "social justice issue" and that Comcast rates are too high.

Neighborhoods: 
Topics: 
Ad:

Comments

I remember Marty Walsh talking about there being some upcoming fiber optic related news that he couldn't get specific on when he first got elected and then I never heard anything else about it. Does anybody know what happened with that? I hope this isn't it, because I have serious doubts that Verizon will be up for this after saying they were done rolling out FiOS to new cities.

up
Voting closed 0

Yes, you're referring to this Marty Walsh announcement:
https://www.boston.com/business/innovation/blogs/inside-the-hive/2014/02...

As far as I can tell, nothing has happened. The crazy thing is that for much of the city, this network would be a boon to small business & college start-ups, in addition to residents! I don't understand if a city like Chattanooga, TN can create a city-wide fiber network offering 1gig speeds for $70 a month & 100meg for $58 in a city that's almost THREE times the size of the City of Boston, why we couldn't do this--and quickly. Boston would literally become Silicon Valley East (not just 'a top tech city in the U.S.'). More info on Chattanooga's city-wide network here: http://chattanoogagig.com/

up
Voting closed 0

yes please!

up
Voting closed 0

Municipal fiber is my dream

up
Voting closed 0

My question is.. playing the devils advocate here... many people don't want Muni fibre because many people (not myself) believe that the state and cities can barely manage their own resources, let along a fiber optic network. What makes you think this would be any better?

of course, looking at Chattanooga and Burlington VT, it can be done and done well. But curious to know what pundits think about this sort of thing.

up
Voting closed 0

Fair skepticism, but I'm not entirely sure that all state/municipal utilities operate on consistent deficits. It'd be interesting to look into the infrastructure costs and yearly maintenance costs of places like Burlington or Chattanooga, but as with all things Boston, I'm sure the infrastructure would be a considerable upfront investment.

If you'd like to research into the efficiency of some other public utilities, though, you might look at the books of MWRA's operating budget. That's the first example I can think of, though I'm not so sure that maintenance of such an operation is really comparable to a fiber optics network.

Just spitballing, really.

up
Voting closed 0

I am not one of those people who believe what I was saying above.. far from it. I think Internet Service should be a utility like Power, Water, and Sewer and be 'common carrier' much like the PTSN is. (i.e. your copper line may be installed Verizon but your dial tone & service is from another carrier).

I'm just curious to see what people's thoughts are..

up
Voting closed 0

My water and sewer connections work a whole lot better then any other utility I have. You turn the knob, drinkable water comes out. All for $0.02/gallon. Pretty amazing.

Other towns (Belmont, Salem, etc) have municipal power too and often they are known for restoring power to residents after storms quicker then NStar.

I would rather give $80 a month to my town for a unfiltered internet connection then I would pay the same amount to Verizon/Comcast for a connection where sniff my data and do scummy QOS things.

up
Voting closed 0

A friend of mine has Chattanooga Fiber and loves it. Says its so much better than Comcast in his area. Plus it has a personal touch.. it's run by locals so they understand the people they are providing too. So the customer service is far better.

Far cry from Comcast or Verizon, where you may call an outage to a call center that is somewhere else far away from your location.

up
Voting closed 0

We seem to be doing okay here in Braintree with our municipal power, water & sewer, power, cable, broadband internet (and I guess digital phone too, with internet service). Only been doing the internet thing for 17 years though, I guess time will tell...

Some of our roads suck, and the schools need some repairs, but the utilities in this town are pretty damn good, especially compared to our neighbors (you MWRA users pay what for your water?!).

up
Voting closed 0

While I have friends in Braintree who speak wonderful volumes about the service of the utilities, cable, and phone service down there.. The money wrench I will throw into muni-anything is...

Do some research about Alemeda Light and Power in Alemeda, CA. They offered cable television service (and internet service) for many years until a few years ago. Why did they stop? Because it became too expensive to provide the level of service people expected (i.e. cable stations, higher bandwidth), so they sold out to Comcast.

Sometimes Muni Utilities work (like Braintree), and sometimes they don't (like Alemeda)

up
Voting closed 0

BostonDog overstated the BWRA rates by about three-fold. Water rates for residents start off at 0.65 cents per gallon (and only go up to about 0.8 cents per gallon if one uses really huge amounts). Not 2 cents a gallon!

I just looked up the rates for Braintree and it's true they're slightly less - but you're paying slightly more for your sewer (and you also have an addtl quarterly charge). When I figured it all out based on 180 gallons per day (supposedly the single family average), combined yearly water+sewer costs in Boston are about 12% more than Braintree's - but yours are going up faster in recent years.

up
Voting closed 0

It's because last-mile utilities like gas, water, sewer, electric, and apparently broadband tend to function as monopolies. And if you're going to live under the thumb of a monopoly, better to have it in public hands than private ones.

up
Voting closed 0

I got friends who work IT with the city. They couldn't get a job any place else.

It will be THAT kind of service.

up
Voting closed 0

Business internet is *insanely* expensive - the same service you can get at home from Comcast will cost a business 2-3x as much.

RCN? No idea, since their business pricing isn't online.

up
Voting closed 0

But you're paying for a SLA with Comcast Business. I can have an service issue at my office, and have a tech out here today. Comcast Residential, maybe a few days.. a week?

You also do not wait on hold with Comcast Biz, you get directly connected with someone who actually wants to help you (and not read cards like Comcast Residential does)

And it's not that much more.. a basic 25/5 connection from Comcast Biz is 125, and you get basic TV included (with a ATA adapter, no HD). (at least this is what my company pays for it). Comcast Residential is ~70 now?

up
Voting closed 0

Don't hold your breath O'Malley.

Verizon has repeatedly told people, they are not rolling out any new FiOS service areas anywhere (unless required to so like Fire Island NY after the fiasco with Hurricane Sandy).

Baltimore is so sick of waiting, they are looking at muni fiber and other solutions to bring FTTH to their city. Boston should start to do the same.

Verizon has made it very clear they really don't want the wireline business anymore, this includes FiOS service. They want to be a wireless-only company. I give it 10 years before Verizon dumps MA's wire line business onto Windstream, Frontier, or some other sucker (like they recently did for their markets in TX, FL, PA, WV, and CA)

up
Voting closed 0

I have a relative who works for Verizon. He has ststed something very similar; that Verizon no longer wants to be in the landline/wireline business. There are constsnt negotiations with other companies to take over the existing business. Two things have snarled futher negotiation: 1.) Obama's vacations on the island where Verizon is the only game intown. It is my understanding the Secret Service wouldn't allow exchange of informstion until after the last vacation of his term was over. 2.) The Union cotract talks. Union members are very aware of the intent of Verizon to be a wireless carrier only. The Union chose not to strike at this time in good faith efforts. Rumbilngs from Union Reps indicate patience is wearing thin as management increases interest in selling its book of business for northern NE.

up
Voting closed 0

They already dropped ME, NH, VT, and parts of western MA. All are now in the hands of Fairpoint Communications.

Verizon has indeed stopped rolling out any new fibre anywhere unless the infrastructure was already in place. Those incessant TV ads are only to optimize connections in those communities where they already have main trunks laid down.

Also, most people don't know that if you get fibre, they will rip out your copper wire service. The copper telephone service runs on its own power from the phone company and it will continue to work in many emergencies when power to cell towers is lost. Even when your phone is shut off or you just move in the line must have 911 service by law. You also have to install a battery back-up system that plugs in someplace so you may have to have an electrician come in to install an outlet and shelf for the battery - which by the way will only guarantee you phone service for about 3-5 hours of use when the power goes out. After that you are SOL, and if you believe the complaints on line, those battery back ups only last a few years and have to be replaced at a cost in the high 2-digit or low 3-digit range. You pay for that, it is not supplied.

Verizon didn't come to Boston because they did not want to be held to the rules and regulations of a cable TV carrier like Comcast and RCN and have certain responsibilities to the public concern. They have been lobbying hard to get such regulations lifted so they can do what they want and charge what they want.

Oh, by the way... after they sold their copper network to the little guy they then came in with a black box you can plug your house phone into and connect to their cell towers. Nice. Undercut your business partners.

After the hurricanes they never did replace a lot of the copper in NY and NJ and came in with cell towers only. You had to buy one service for phone and another for internet and pay more than you did before.

Great company.

Hang on to your DSL if you have it. DSL REPORTS says that in many areas as DSL customers drop out that new replacement customers are not being taken, so if you change your mind and don't like cable, there may be no going back.

Sprint just bought out WiMax wireless internet. Watch for that soon in a city near you.

up
Voting closed 0

You're 100% correct on this. Verizon is no longer rolling out DSL.. my CO in Chelsea does not even offer it anymore. Verizon really does not want to sell you DSL at all.

And yes you're right about the copper. But you can request that they don't do that. And call N bitch if they do. A call to AG, if unsuccessful with dealing with Verizon, can fix and get the copper restored. It's pretty shady (and probably against some law) to rip out the copper so you're forced onto one provider.

They are being forced by NJ and NY to put the copper back.. Fire Island was a good example of how they did that. More is coming on this, along with mega lawsuits. But Verizon doesn't care, they have enough money to keep this crap tied up in litigation for years.

And yes same with those battery packs.. People forget that about FiOS. I'd put it on a UPS anyways (because I'm geeky like that) but I shouldn't have to pay for a battery to give me service that you're required to do so. (however, Verizon's argument is that the law applies to copper lines, not FiOS.. which this law skirting is a whole separate issue too)

And yes regarding the regulations they are trying to get out of. One of the main reasons for them not being in Boston is that they want to cherry pick expensive neighborhoods and leave the people in poor ones in the dark. Menino didn't like that too much, so he told them, do all the city or don't come.

And on the same token, they have been salivating for years to get a state wide cable TV franchise, which the legislature would have to enact since no such thing exists already in the state. The legislator said no to this and Verizon went packing.

They really are a sleazy company!

You mention WiMax, which was the old "Clear" company. The reason why clear went out of business is because the service was pretty bad and it wasn't selling. And since it was a MNVO on the Sprint network, it was pretty easy for Sprint to acquire them. But Sprint is hurting financially, so I wouldn't hold your breath on a clear 'relaunch'

up
Voting closed 0

YIPPEEE! More overpriced unreliable utility service to cut up our streets and sidewalks with sloppy patch jobs. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

up
Voting closed 0

PLEEEEEEEASE

up
Voting closed 0

I don't even care that much for FIOS in terms of programming, but god damn Comcast needs some price pressure on it. I pay more per MB of "bandwidth" (oh it Hz) than my family members in Florida, Ohio, even Western Mass. Here. In the Hub of the Universe.

up
Voting closed 0

Everything to do with my disdain for Comcast,

RCN doesn't service my area. I hate Comcast so much that I'm realistically considering DirecTV. I'm pretty sure it is a bad idea but that's how bad (and overpriced) Comcast is.

up
Voting closed 0

A lot also depends on your landlord's or condo association's proclivities, especially if you live in a larger building. I rent in an 1970s-ish condo building in Somerville and it is wired for Comcast although RCN is in the area. I can't say for sure, but I imagine that somebody got a cut off the top from Comcast for that at some point.

up
Voting closed 0

I've heard that Time Warner served cities have it much worse than us.
Not that such excuses Comcast who was planning on merging with them anyhow.

up
Voting closed 0

They exist in South Boston. They roll trucks from 2nd St. I watched them have a clambake one time. They do not service my house, 8 blocks away. According to the map posted here:

http://www.betaboston.com/news/2014/03/10/the-desolate-state-of-boston-b...

...they stop 4 doors down.

FML but F Comcast and RCN more.

up
Voting closed 0

Also in Southie, but RCN stops at G street.

up
Voting closed 0

Charles Yancey (Dorchester, Mattapan), said Bostonians should not become information "have nots."

*snicker* *twitch* Bwahahaha!!

up
Voting closed 0

Screw verizon, their service and product are terrible. they make comcast look good. we should be doing everything under the sun to lure google fiber here.

up
Voting closed 0

We'd be waiting a very long time... Google Fiber has finished rolling out in a handful of cities, and they have several cities already chosen and in line to get their service next. I don't see any of these cities being close to being complete for at least another 5-10 years.

Google is very slow at doing this. And until they open up a PoP closer to us (in the Northeast), We'll never see it here.

Google Fiber, much like Verizon and Comcast wants special 'access' and 'breaks' from municipalities to bring their service to you. There's more to G Fiber than what people think and It's not all coming up Google daisies.

up
Voting closed 0

I'm sure there are posters who know much more about this kind of stuff than me, isn't the argument against investing heavily in physical cable installation that eventually truly high speed wireless will be the norm? Wimax or some future wireless standard would immediately make the prospect of owning and having to maintain a physical network unappealing which is exactly why Verizon and Google aren't interested. We could just be locking the city into owning something which is expensive to maintain and which would be at risk of either becoming obsolete when a new network tech emerges or has to be supported even though the majority of the customers have moved on.

up
Voting closed 0

Kinda

Verizon and Google not being interested are two very separate issues. Verizon just sees landline as a losing battle. Google its more about startup costs as they wire the city entirely for fiber optics (which is expensive). Sure one could say Verizon isn't interested because of cost, but its mainly that they want to dump their wireline business like yesterday.

As far as your other point about building an out dated cable network. Same could have been said about expanding the PTSN in 1972 when mobile phones appeared. Or in the 1950s when most of the cable television networks were built.

Fiber optics in a raw form can have speeds up to 10gigbits right now. And the only limitation on that is due to current hardware specs.That's far cry to some of the fastest wireless avaliable now, and even faster than basic 802.x and WifiMax. I think we are at least 10 or so years away from being able to get 1gig wirelessly (on a large scale roll out).

Remember fiber optics is light waves. It really doesn't get much faster than the 'speed of light'. Fiber optics have been rolled out in telco land for decades. I just don't see that going away any time soon.

The bottom line is, we can't not build something because we fear technology will be out dated soon, otherwise we would still be using oil lamps for lighting because of fears that 'something better may come along.. better than electricity'.

(one more thing, WiMax has many issues with reliability, especially indoors!)

up
Voting closed 0

I'm concerned that we'd be building a brand new Pony Express system only to see the telegraph emerge (or telegraph system, only to see the phone emerge0.

The rate of change is rapid - 5 years ago, few people would use tethered phones for network access and now many do.

Flipping it around though, what's the killer app coming which requires even faster speed? Streaming video is now good for most purposes and more and more people are watching on small devices vs. 4K 100" Sony TVs. What's the residential need for a 1gig wireless link now?

up
Voting closed 0

As I said above, Fiber optics has been around for decades. It's really not going away anytime soon. Many neighborhoods are already wired for Fiber optics, it's just the 'last mile' is still copper and/or coax. FiOS (or G Fiber) are just eliminating that "last mile" of copper/coax and bring fiber optics straight to your home.

I should also add that that 10gig limitation is because of technology of today. Change out the hardware on either ends and you could have 100gig when the hardware becomes avaliable to do so. But the physical fiber strand does not need to be replaced to do this, it's (almost always) glass not metal cabling like coax is. (and yes fellow geeks there's an argument here based on what type of cabling is used but typically it doesn't need to be replaced)

The other thing to keep in mind that Fiber optics doesn't just deliver internet service, it can deliver your phone service, your television service, and pretty much any new service in the future. There's so much 'bandwidth' on a fiber strand that can be used that the possibilities are pretty much endless to what services you can provide over the strand. (and when I say bandwidth, I am not talking about internet speeds, but overall throughput thru the cable itself, which is far more than what technology today can deliver).

(I'm also going to go out on a limb, without looking up correct info, but I believe the max speed a fiber optic cable can take.. in theory.. is like in exabytes, which is plenty fast enough for us now, and for many, many decades to come)

And since you asked about a "killer app".. yeah Fiber optics can do all of that in the future too. Maybe in 10 years we'll have 15k TVs.. and yes, Fiber optics can handle all that and then some. I can't say that about Comcast's HFC network (the coax cable). (and eventually when that happens, Comcast or whoever is the cable provider at that time will have no other choice than to do FTTH and replace it's own coax network's 'last mile' in order to remove the limitations of their current HFC network).

Wireless technologies (LTE, WiMax, etc) are many many years away from offering similar speeds. So much so, I don't feel that it will be a major threat to the wired style connections. There will always be a need for wired connections. Maybe not so much for an average user, but businesses and power users like myself will always prefer a wired connection over wireless. No business will ever use wireless service as a primary connection (at least not in my life time) unless they absolutely have to, it's too unreliable, too many variables that make the service work great or suck. And until that reliability changes, wired connections will always be superior to wireless ones. (regardless of what my Verizon Wireless rep is trying to tell and sell me these LTE boxes as 'backup' internet devices)

(and then of course, then add how most wireless providers have low caps on their usage, it's un-realistic to think that wireless will ever replace wired because of this reason alone.. until the caps are very high or removed)

I'm an IT Administrator.. I deal with wireless issues all day long. Both cellular and wireless (wifi) devices. I see poor reliability and service from all providers. Now my fiber optic (not Verizon) connection is very fast, very reliable, and does not suffer at all from any of the same issues. And my personal clients I deal with outside of my day job, I steer them as far away from wireless as much as I can, because the minute it stops working right (or slows down to a crawl), I get a phone call. I can't say that about any clients who use wired connections.

I myself don't use wireless at home. I have a Wireless N network, but because of the building I'm in (horse hair plaster), it's pretty useless. I have GigE wired throughout my condo instead. Why? because I got tired of wireless drop outs, or studdering video on my Roku, or it just not working the way it should.

And phones.. ya. I have a cell phone with LTE service on it. I don't watch movies on it.. I've just never seen the point of watching it on a small screen, when I have a lovely 50" LED LCD TV in my bedroom which can display the video far better than my cell phone ever could.

Try streaming NetFlix to your TV via your cell phone (like using it as a HotSpot). Yeah it might work "good enough" for you, but the quality of the image is not as it should really be, compared to a wired internet connection. Remember Netflix's streams to your phone are at a reduced "quality" to accommodate the smaller screens and lack of reliable internet connections. Netflix (for your TV at home) requires a 3-6MB connection at all time, depending on the stream quality. Wireless can't provide that level of service now. So people still get wired connections for that reason alone (There's a reason why cord cutters, dump the TV but keep the internet).

Not trying to get all soap boxy on you, but you did ask, so I am trying to clarify it for you and explain my case.

up
Voting closed 0

More good info is always welcome. I am not an IT administrator.

I do still feel like in 10 years time or so, depending on how tech develops, municipal WiWhatever is the better option for offering good, maybe not fantastic network access to the bulk of residents who might want/need assistance getting online. And the Googles and Facebooks are going to be working very hard to figure out great wireless because the biggest market is the developing world where cell phones rule and land lines are non-existent because rolling out wireless coverage is much, much cheaper to deploy and maintain than stringing wireless to every residence.

I guess it's a matter of goals. If we want the city to improve the network access options for the resident of Boston generally, then in 10 years maybe wireless could be an option. If we want the city to fund and deploy a 'world class' internet access system across the city for economic or QoL reasons, then fiber is the way to go. I'd rather see the private sector do it given the legacy costs of any public works project in Boston pretty much.

up
Voting closed 0

Vaughn,

I understand what you are trying to get to. And yes I agree wireless is the wave of the future, but I don't think the technology is there yet or will be in the next 10-15 years to deliver equal service as a wired connection. Nor will it out date wired connections in the foreseeable future

The problem with WiMax or anything wireless, is not only reliability on service both in and out doors and the technology not being there yet.. but its a topology issue. The problem with WiMax or city-wide Wifi is that there's a bottle-necking issue. This also happens with 'cellular' style connections.

What bottle-necking is.... let's say you have a WiMax connection. Your top speed is say 1MB on it. (yes I know, slow). Let's say that 10 people all connect to that WiMax (the same "tower"), now you have to have a *at least* a 10-12MB connection feeding that "tower".

Now let's multiply that.. say we're now offering a Gig per user. And you have 100 people connected to that same "tower". In order for people to all get 1Gig at the same time, that transmitter needs to be connected to a connection that has *atleast* a 100Gig connection.

Of course the argument is that, not everyone would be using the fill Gig at a time and that would off set it some. But what if everyone was? If the "tower" was connected to 10G connection, the internet would just slow down to a halt.

This already happens today with over saturated cellular towers. Ever notice that in the evening in certain areas the cellular network slows down? Yeah it's because there's not enough capacity on the "tower".

See where I am going with it's "it's not quite there yet". Upgrading to fatter internet pipes for these towers needs to happen before we can ever think about WiMax or something else. And that's just a very costly expense for the companies providing service.... AND there has to be high speed service TO those towers.

Hence where a fiber optic network comes in. You can't build out a WiMax network without it. Yes Fiber optic connections are avaliable throughout the city for business already but they are very specific to where (usually building location) and if they aren't wired, it cost big $$ to bring those services to there. (and those costs would be passed onto the customers)

(and yes I know many cellular carriers have private networks or use services like "Royal Crown Cable Services" or American Tower, but on a smaller WiMax or City-Wide Wifi deployments, these connections can get very costly)

In very short terms, if we build a Fiber network today, it would provide the bandwidth for WiMax or other wireless services tomorrow and beyond. Fiber really is the end all, be all data network for the future.

There's alot more to this topic than I am discussing.. happy to continue if people are interested. But I think I've covered the gist of it here and my previous postings.

up
Voting closed 0

Is a wireless service offered in some parts of the Boston area. It seems pretty seat of the pants. They need access to high locations and they don't have one near me near MGH...

http://www.netblazr.com/

I don't have cable and I don't use Comcast or DirectTV as I don't feel like battling their customer service. I don't have access to RCN, so right now I am using Verizon DSL. I would be all over netblazr if it was offered to my address.

up
Voting closed 0

Re: https://twitter.com/universalhub/status/639134518935351296

Familiar with this route, but I don't think it really is a market solution that we're looking for. It certainly gives people incentive to pick up the phone and shop around, but I don't think it really does much to keep costs low/competitive. Verizon and Comcast are behemoths that have nationwide presence and the "hit" they take for a handful of people who decide to try to negotiate their service costs or take their business elsewhere is like a drop in the ocean.

Sorry - I'd continue over twitter but, you know, character limits. Happy to discuss further. I certainly don't have the answer, though I am of the crowd who thinks that the issues is a public policy one. I certainly have plenty of more research and reading to do.

up
Voting closed 0

Get ready for Verizon to go on strike again there Union contract is up. Things will get ugly look what has happened in the past. Good luck for those dealing with there BS

up
Voting closed 0