A column by Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh:
This week I announced something that will change Boston’s future: working closely with the City over the next six years, Verizon will rewire the entire city with an advanced fiber-optic network.
Replacing our outdated copper-based telecom infrastructure with state-of-the-art fiber will dramatically improve internet connection speeds for both residents and businesses and increased competition will help the city reach its goal of ensuring that every resident has expanded access to broadband. This upgrade will help students, seniors, small businesses, and innovators of all kinds. The bottom line is, it’s going to place Boston at the leading edge of technological firepower, and technological access, now and as we move into the future.
I want to thank Verizon for committing more than $300 million to this investment in the City of Boston. And I want to thank them for committing to a roll-out that starts in the neighborhoods of Boston where access is needed most.
I knew when I took office over 2 years ago that our city faced a disconnect. Boston is home to some of the brightest minds and best talent. But our infrastructure—the engine that makes innovation possible—lags behind. It’s insufficient for the 21st century leader that we are becoming. So we made fiber a priority. We forged a strong partnership with Verizon. And together we crafted a plan that is fair and practical, yet bold and ambitious. We’re going to go from lagging behind to leading the pack.
Our first priority was to make this service available all over the city. We’ve been working to extend the innovation economy beyond the Seaport and Downtown, with investments like Wicked Free Wi-Fi in our Main Street districts, and startup support at the Roxbury Innovation Center. Likewise, our fiber optic rollout will begin, this year, in Dudley Square as well as Dorchester and West Roxbury. Next we’ll upgrade Hyde Park, Mattapan, greater Roxbury, and Jamaica Plain. The rest of the neighborhoods will follow. By 2022, residents and businesses across the city will be able to benefit from the state-of-the-art fiber optic connection.
Our partnership with Verizon is going to make Boston a smarter and more equitable city right away. For example, Verizon is donating $100,000 to support a mobile hotspot lending program at the Boston Public Library, bringing free internet access to families who need it the most. In addition, we’ll work together on a range of “smart city” technologies to upgrade the way Boston moves and works. We’ll start with sensors to improve safety along Mass. Ave., as part of our Vision Zero goal to eliminate fatal crashes. This fiber optic network will also support improvements to wireless coverage in Boston—so our smartphones and mobile devices always stay connected.
As our fiber network takes shape, the opportunities will only grow. And the infrastructure will not be static. It will be a platform for embracing—or inventing—whatever comes next.
That’s only fitting for Boston. We have a proud legacy of punching far above our weight when it comes to innovation. Our revolutionary history encompasses both new ideas and new progress in social equality. This fiber optic network will help ensure we live up to that legacy, with resources that can support our highest aspirations. And those are dreams we don’t even know about yet. They will come from the newly empowered—and accelerated—imaginations of our students, our entrepreneurs, and our innovators across the city.