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Verizon-Boston fiber optic deal means more than faster Internet service

Matt Hamblen | April 18, 2016
Smart city project and small cell wireless on utility poles are part of 'platform' deal.

With the deal in Boston, Gold also said that Verizon clearly wants to position itself as a "ready-made outlet" for its media content after its purchase of AOL and the reports that it may acquire Yahoo. Verizon is also applying to be a cable TV franchise for Boston using its fiber.

Verizon has been dinged in the past for not equipping Boston with Fios earlier, but having the broader "platform" of capabilities that were announced has pushed Verizon into doing so.

"The financial analysis with Fios alone in Boston is not something that makes sense for Verizon as a business," said Donna Cupelo, New England region president for Verizon, in an interview. "That was true for Boston in 2004 and 2009 and 2014, but now we have a different approach for the overall needs of customers to make a financially solid decision based on all those factors."

Beyond what Verizon has posted online, it isn't completely clear how fast or how costly the fiber service will be in Boston. One portion of the company's website says upload and download speeds with Fios (primarily for residential customers) will be "up to 500 Mbps" but another portion for business customers says speed choices will be "up to 10 Gigabit Ethernet."

Fios for Internet service only is listed on a separate Verizon site at $69.99 per month for speeds of 150 Mbps, although there are other tiers of Internet-only service, as well as packages of Internet and cable TV, or Internet, cable TV and phone.

Franklin-Hodge said that the biggest advantage of Fios's arrival in Boston may be the ability to offer a competitive alternative to Comcast, which has about 90% of the residential market, while another provide, RCN, has about 10%. With more competition, businesses outside the central business district may see the biggest benefits in lowered Internet service costs, he said.

"I can't think of any unregulated industry in which a single provider has created a positive result for consumers," Franklin-Hodge said. "We're trying to increase competition with the goal of affordability."

Verizon has divided the construction project into four parts of the city over six years and earliest work could start in early summer based on the priorities determined after citizens vote on Verizon's online poll, Cupelo said.

"I love Boston and have worked here all my years," she said. "It is a great city with great people, and Verizon's extraordinary employees are excited about a partnership with a government that cares about the same things we do, with an opportunity for innovation."


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