Verizon Extending Fiber Network to Every Boston Neighborhood

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Connecting state and local government leaders

The move will pave the way for an unscheduled 5G rollout, though the telecom giant was mum on any city concessions in the new agreement.

Verizon is planning to double its initial $300 million investment in Boston and expand its fiber network to all remaining neighborhoods ahead of a fifth-generation wireless rollout.

The telecom giant and city made a franchise agreement in 2016 to expand the local wireless network, bring Fios internet and TV to neighborhoods, and pilot smart technologies.

Similar to its agreement with San José, Verizon will also contribute $1 million to Boston’s Digital Equity Fund to improve broadband access for underserved residents, the company announced on Tuesday. The funds go to non-profit organizations that apply.

“Our partnership with Verizon reflects one goal: to make sure all of Boston’s residents have access to the most advanced digital technology both now, and in the future,” said Mayor Marty Walsh in a statement. “We’re making sure Boston is the best digital city in the nation, and through partnerships with companies like Verizon, residents will have better, more affordable options, as we work together to create inclusive growth for our city.”

The new 10-year agreement will see Verizon expand its small cell network to increase the speed and capacity of its 4G LTE network and pave the way for 5G, which has no launch date in the city.

Boston, in turn, agreed to streamline permitting for small cell installation.

Verizon declined to comment on whether Boston agreed to reduce fees for small cell permitting or pole attachments and speed up approval timelines—both things many cities opposed in the Federal Communications Commission’s recent 5G order. That ruling capped the fees that municipalities can charge, while setting strict time limits for processing permits. A number of cities have sued the agency in response.

“[W]e aren't looking at this through a lens of which side won this and gave that,” said Raymond McConville, a spokesman with Verizon. “We're on the same side.”

Boston City Hall did not respond about the contract in time for publication.

Smart city solutions for traffic management and safety, as well as energy efficiency, are forthcoming.

More than half the homes in Boston already have fiber connectivity in its Dorchester, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Roslindale, Roxbury, Seaport, South Boston, and West Roxbury neighborhoods. The amended contract will provide service to South Boston, South End, Allston, Brighton, Back Bay, Charlestown, East Boston, Fenway, and Downtown.

The goal is to connect every home in every neighborhood, though Verizon needs permission from owners and landlords and cost may still be a barrier for residents.

“In terms of affordability, we price all of our products competitively, and this is an extremely competitive market both for wireless and landline services,” McConville said.

Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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