Verizon and city officials said tonight that if they reach agreement on a cable contract, the company will roll out its FiOS service to four Boston neighborhoods using its traditional fiber-optic cables right to people's homes or buildings.
Verizon officials and Boston CIO Jascha Franklin-Hodge said that even as Verizon begins to serve Boston over fiber-optic lines with TV, Internet and phone services, it will be building a parallel system to eventually offer 5G wireless services - at far higher speeds than today's 4G - via a vast network of small antennas on utility poles. 5G is still under development.
While, at some point in the future, Verizon might begin to offer television, Internet and phone service over 5G, the FiOS build-out in Boston will be based on "fiber to the premises," Verizon attorney Paul Trane said.
Trane spoke at a meeting at the Bolling Building in Dudley Square, which will be one of the first parts of the city to get FiOS, possibly beginning at the end of this year. Other initial neighborhoods would be West Roxbury, most of Roslindale and most of Dorchester, except for Lower Mills (map). Roughly 50 people attended.
The company did not give a specific timetable for extending FiOS to the rest of the city, although it has pledged to cover all of Boston within five to six years as part of a $300-million Boston investment.
Franklin-Hodge, , who is overseeing negotiations with Verizon on its proposed cable license, vowed the city will not let the company cherry pick neighborhoods as it enables FiOS across the city. - a complaint that has come up in some other large cities with FiOS.
He acknowledged there might be some small areas where Verizon can't build FiOS lines for various technical or legal reasons, but "fundamentally the goal is universal service."
Most of the people who spoke at the meeting belonged to one of two groups: A number of Verizon workers and one Verizon union rep urged the city to approve a contract with Verizon ASAP to bring residents the unparalleled services they said Verizon offers and to bust up the Comcast monopoly that exists in the 70% of the city not served by RCN. A large number of officials, hosts and volunteers at Boston Neighborhood Network, the city community-access channel, meanwhile, urged to city to insist Verizon support their work the same way Comcast and RCN have.
Only Walter Haynes of Jamaica Plain raised the optical-cable-vs.wireless and cherry picking issues.
One Dudley Square resident raised concern about the disruption caused by laying optical cables through people's yards. Verizon said it would work with the city to minimize that.
Theodora Hanna of Tech Goes Home asked if Verizon would work to provide Internet service to residents who might not be able to a full FiOS package. "Verizon is committed to digital equity," Trane replied.