Verizon's Boston FiOS build could be a blueprint for further expansion

Sean Buckley, FierceTelecomVerizon (NYSE: VZ) recently did an about-face on its moratorium for new FiOS FTTH expansions by announcing a six-year, $300 million deal to build out FiOS in Boston that will begin this year.  

In FierceTelecom's latest feature, I take a look at how Verizon found that bringing its FiOS network to Boston will fulfill not only residential service needs, but also other purposes including wireless backhaul and emerging smart city applications.

Verizon is hardly alone in its desire to multitask its FTTH deployments. Fellow ILEC AT&T (NYSE: T) is following a similar strategy in its ongoing FTTH build into 56 markets where it will extend fiber to cell sites, small cells and local businesses that reside along the same path of the fiber network. Given the costs any service provider has to build out fiber, being able to maximize that investment by having the network satisfy multiple needs makes sense.

Donna Cupelo, Northeast regional president for Verizon, told FierceTelecom that the Boston buildout is "a more expensive approach, but we believe it will be a more efficient approach in the long term."

So what drove Verizon to consider Boston as its latest FTTH hub?

For one, Verizon found that Mayor Marty Walsh and his new administration were more amenable to working with the telco to ease the permitting process. Being able to get access to a streamlined permitting process to get access to necessary rights-of-way (ROW) and other city infrastructure to lay fiber cables and connect customers.

But there's a broader trend going on here: Verizon wants to fuel new innovation coming out of local Boston-based universities and startup companies. What's more, having a fiber-based network in place Boston could attract more entrepreneurs and help local employers get the best candidates.

The service provider isn't conducting a build-it-and-they-will-come process. Taking a cue from Google Fiber (NASDAQ: GOOG), TDS Telecom and C-Spire, Verizon has also adopted the same pre-ordering process that allows residents to vote on getting FTTH services for their community.

Verizon has divided up its FiOS buildout plan for Boston into four zones where residents in each of its zones can vote at a site to be the first to get service. Initial targets for the Boston FiOS deployment are Dorchester, West Roxbury and the Dudley Square neighborhood. Later deployments will take place Hyde Park, Mattapan, and other areas of Roxbury and Jamaica Plain.

However, there will be questions about this deployment, particularly from other Northeast communities that have been snubbed by Verizon for FiOS. Last year, the mayors of Peabody and Salem, Massachusetts sent Verizon a letter asking the telco to build out its FTTH service in their towns. The mayors said they continue to get requests from residents for an alternative service choice besides Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) or a satellite provider.

Also in 2015, 13 city mayors on the East Coast called on Verizon to expand its FiOS FTTH network into more areas that have limited access to high speed services.

As Verizon moves forward with its Boston FiOS rollout, it will be interesting to see if the provider considers taking the blueprint in other parts of its Northeast wireline footprint. Time will only tell.

Check out our new feature and let us know what you think in the comments section.--Sean

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