After years of discussing the possibility of building a city-wide municipal broadband network in the face of resistance from the city manager, the city of Cambridge, Boston’s next-door neighbor, is now getting serious about moving forward.
Followed by a budget stand-off in the spring of 2020 with City Councilors that brought the issue to a head, City Manager Louis DePasquale finally relented to the possibility being pushed by Upgrade Cambridge, a citizen-led group organized in 2018 to advocate for municipal broadband.
In October, the city that is home to MIT and Harvard University hired the consulting firm CTC Technology & Energy to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the digital landscape and present various business models Cambridge could pursue to bring its residents ubiquitous, reliable, and affordable high-speed Internet service as an alternative to the monopoly offerings of Comcast and Verizon DSL.
While Upgrade Cambridge founding member Roy Russell acknowledged DePasquale’s initial reluctance, he credits the soon-to-be-retiring city manager for coming around to the idea.
“With the pandemic and the money the federal government has supplied (for expanding access to broadband), he (DePasquale) has really stepped up,” Russell said when we spoke with him last week.
Comprehensive Assessment Underway
As it stands now, CTC is on track to complete its assessment by the fall of 2022. In early May, representatives of the consulting firm gave Upgrade Cambridge an update on where they are in the process. CTC reported a range of activities they are working on:
• Conducting site surveys and putting together a design and cost estimate
• Exploring business models
• Market analysis that includes a residential survey
• Planning engagement with business community
• Coordinating with Cambridge...Read more