Over the years there’s any number of cities that Verizon failed to upgrade to FiOS, be it Alexandria, Buffalo, or Baltimore. But the biggest neglected city has long been Boston, where many suburbs were upgraded, but the telco simply refused to upgrade the city proper. That apparently ends today with a surprise Verizon announcement that the company will be spending $300 million over six years to upgrade the city’s copper infrastructure to fiber, and FiOS.
Boston residents have begged Verizon for years for upgrades to no avail. As of last fall, Verizon had publicly stated they had absolutely no interest in upgrading Boston anytime soon. At one point, Verizon added insult to injury by using the city for FiOS ads, despite it not being available in the city proper.
The deployment will begin in the Dorchester, West Roxbury and the Dudley Square neighborhood of Roxbury in 2016, followed by Hyde Park, Mattapan, and other areas of Roxbury and Jamaica Plain. Verizon says the city agreed to an “expedited permitting process to encourage this build,” though Verizon’s also likely getting other, unspecified perks to perform such a notable about face.
“Boston is moving faster than our current infrastructure can support, and a modern fiber-optic communications platform will make us a next-level city,” Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said of Verizon’s announcement. “Additionally, it is a priority to ensure that every resident has expanded access to broadband and increasing competition is critical to reaching that goal. I thank Verizon for their investment in Boston and for partnering with the city to provide the foundation for future technology growth.”
Verizon appears to be following a Google Fiber “fiberhood” model in which users can show their enthusiasm for a chance to have their neighborhood upgraded first. Verizon says users should head to this website to “vote” for their own neighborhood. That link also provides a FAQ about the deployment.
Verizon’s decision comes as a notable surprise given that the telco ceased FiOS deployment in most markets years ago to focus on more profitable (read: usage capped) wireless broadband, and executives have made it abundantly clear they no longer believe fixed-line broadband is profitable…enough. With the growing number of public/private partnerships taking root, Verizon likely didn’t want to leave the door open to another major player like Google Fiber coming in and dominating a city in the heart of Verizon country.