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Boston to hire full-time advocate to push for better, cheaper broadband

The city's IT department is advertising for a Broadband and Digital Equity Advocate.

Broadband is an essential infrastructure for the 21st century. But for too many of our residents and businesses, service is too slow, too expensive, or simply not available. Fast broadband is key to economic and educational opportunity, it connects our world-class universities and hospitals, and it is the engine that powers our digital economy.

The department is looking for applicants who can develop strategies

To encourage broadband availability and affordability, such as: Regulatory changes; Development or tax incentives; Municipal / middle mile network building; Solicitation of private market entrants through RFP or RFI; Leveraging City-owned broadband resources (fiber, conduit, facilities, etc.) for commercial or public use.

City Councilor Matt O'Malley (Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury) recently called for the city to try to get Verizon to bring its FiOS to Boston or take other steps to bring more competition and better broadband to Boston.

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Comments

Hell. cut a deal to get Google Fiber over here (although they haven't come to any major cities yet). Anything so we don't have to deal with only freakin' Comcast anymore. As ra as municipal broadband goes, what other cities have done it and gotten it to work?

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If you look at the cities google's gone into, they're Midwestern style sprawl towns with wide streets, easy permitting and relatively new infrastructure to work around. It's going to be a long time before they touch rats nests like Boston.

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Has been very successful. But is also even smaller than Google Fiber's markets, which actually does include major cities such as Atlanta, Austin, and SLC, and once it expands to San Jose and San Diego, it'll be in 4 of the top 10 most populated cities in the US (as of 2012), with Austin also being #11.

The biggest barriers to municipal broadband will be cost and lobbyists, but the system in VA has already set a precedent for federal funding.

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It is very, very expensive for anyone to lay new fiber in boston. And I suspect between e.g. Comcast, RCN, Eversource, the traffic light control network, and others there is already plenty of it.

Anyone know more than I about who actually owns it? When I lived in the 'burbs (Andover) I remember something about the town retaining ownership of the actual fiber/coax plant, but I never understood the details.

I suspect someone might be more effective as a Broadband and Digital Equity Advocate managing existing plant than looking to bring in more.

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It belongs to a mix of the major ISP's and the city. Comcast, RCN, and Verizon have miles of dark fiber throughout the city. The city has some city owned fiber and the fire department pulls its own lines strictly for fire alarm purposes.

Interestingly enough the city owned fiber optic network that all city departments and schools use rides Comcast fiber.

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And other non-residential ISP outfits have fiber all over the city also. LightTower, Cogent, Windstream, and a few others have fiber too. It may not be on every street, but it's there.

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A lot of streets would have to be dug up, since cables are underground in a large section of the city. It van greatly add to cost. This is not the case in Atlanta, Austin, SLC, etc., these are less urban, more suburban-type cities.

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Unless there are existing conduits that have room. Then it would just involve getting in manholes and snaking fiber bundles. But there's no guarantee this capacity exists.

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I saw one of those in action a few years ago on Back and Dartmouth Streets in the Back Bay. They cut a notch (only a few inches deep), dropped in cable, squirted in what looked like driveway patch to fill notch. I still see some of the tracks in the pavement when I'm over there.

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I'm almost qualified for this position...

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Infrastructure is already in place. That option should be explored.

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PowerLine Broadband requires GOOD infrastructure. Much of the the infrastructure under the city is older.. so it may not work as well. But a good idea if we have the proper infastructure

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with other radio signals, even if your power infrastructure is in good condition. This can be mitigated. However, where this has been an issue in other areas, BPL companies have traditionally shown a strong reluctance to do so.

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Satellite WiFi will kill all fiber infrastructure. Why waste money on something which will rapidly be obsolete and create problems underground?

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but it's not there yet. Satellite has a lot of lag right now, and until they over come that, it will never be a viable option for reliable internet.

Fiber can offer (theoretically) up to something like a couple of exabytes of data throughput. More than enough data for a very long time. WiFi or Satellite are decades away from offering that sort of speed.

Fiber has been used for decades and is still used today. It's not going away any time soon.

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Why. Don't. People. Use. Netblazr.

It's a boston startup, it's available throughout the city, it's competitive if not cheap, and when you call for support you're dialing a techs cell phone.

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Problem with support at most startups is as they grow quality of tech support goes down.

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Because. They're. Not. In. All. Neighborhoods.

I would LOOOOOVE to use netblzr but they aren't actually "available throughout the city" unless your definition of the city ends at comm ave.

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With the reasonably tall buildings around here, you would think they would find someone that would allow them on a roof top.

And to echo another poster: to say it is available throughout the city is pretty clueless.

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