The Boston City Council agreed today to look at creating a public alternative to private broadband providers, saying events of the past couple of years have proved broadband has become a necessity that private business may be unwilling to provide at a price that all residents can afford.
Councilor Liz Breadon (Allston/Brighton) pointed to everything from telehealth appointments to online learning as examples of the critical uses of broadband - and pointed to families without broadband who sometimes had two or three kids sharing a single phone hot-spot to get online for classes in the first year of the pandemic.
"Broadband should be viewed as municipal utility rather than a luxury for people who can afford it," Breadon said.
City Council President Ed Flynn strongly supported the proposal, saying that residents of BHA developments in particular often lack access to what has become a necessary part of life.
Councilor Kenzie Bok (Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Fenway, Mission Hill), who sponsored the proposal with Councilor Julia Mejia (at large), said she would call for a pilot to see if the city's existing network, which links municipal buildings, could be extended to individual homes.
The proposal now goes to a council committee for study and at least one public hearing.