Verizon to bring FiOS to Boston via $300M partnership with the city

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) has struck an agreement to bring FiOS to Boston via a $300 million, six-year investment plan that will replace the city's aging copper network infrastructure with fiber.

To concentrate resources and accelerate the build out timeline, Verizon will install the fiber throughout the city on a neighborhood basis.

Beginning this year, Verizon will start replacing copper with fiber in Dorchester, West Roxbury and the Dudley Square neighborhood. Later deployments will take place Hyde Park, Mattapan, and other areas of Roxbury and Jamaica Plain.

Boston leaders have pledged to help expedite the permitting process to encourage the new FTTH build out.

One of the next steps in providing FiOS video services is that the city will begin the cable television licensing process. After completing the franchise licensing process, Verizon says it expects to offer FiOS TV service in Boston.

In other markets where Verizon signed similar franchise agreements, each city and its residents gained various benefits including financial support for public access and digital equity programs, and connectivity for schools and other community institutions.

Taking a cue from Google Fiber's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Fiberhood enlistment process, Verizon has developed a free online registration process that will be used to assess demand and help Verizon prioritize its fiber-optic network construction schedule. Starting with the Dorchester, West Roxbury and Dudley Square area neighborhoods, Verizon said residents and businesses interested in getting service should visit verizon.com/BostonFiber to register and cast their vote.

But providing wireline services to local residents and businesses is just one part of the fiber build.

Similar to AT&T's (NYSE: T) fiber build plan, Verizon will use the partnership with Boston and the resulting fiber build to attach small cells on city street lights and utility poles to improve its 4G LTE wireless service.

Seeing that it will be laying fiber throughout the city, Verizon's partnership with Boston includes a "Smart Cities" trial that will address traffic safety and congestion along the Massachusetts Avenue Vision Zero Priority Corridor. Under this plan, the city and Verizon will experiment with sensors and advanced traffic signal control technology to increase safety, measure bicycle traffic, improve public transit vehicle flow, and decrease congestion. Later "Smart Cities" applications will address other key services, including environmental sensors, energy efficiency, and city lighting management.

Verizon's partnership with Boston comes after a long and hard-fought battle between the telco and the city and is a change in direction from its plan to not build out service in areas where it did not have an established agreement.

Boston was among several cities that Verizon had passed over in its initial FiOS build. As of October 2015, the telco had been sticking to its guns, saying that it would not bring FiOS to Boston.

At that time, city councilors told Verizon that Boston would ease regulatory restrictions, including the permitting process to build out service and gaining access to existing rights of way.

Earlier, Verizon's CFO Fran Shammo told investors that it will only honor existing local franchising authority (LFA) agreements in areas like Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C., and has not disclosed any plans to expand into new areas.

With plans to bring service to Boston, it will be interesting to see if Verizon will heed the call from other Massachusetts communities like Peabody and Salem to offer service in their communities.

Jeffrey Nelson, a Verizon spokesman, told FierceTelecom in e-mail they want to see how the build out in Boston goes before considering any other moves. 

"Building a fiber optics platform in Boston is our focus," Nelson said. "We expect to learn a lot with our partnership with the city, and then will determine any next steps."

In September 2015, the mayors of Peabody and Salem sent Verizon a letter pleading with the telco to build out its FTTH service in their towns. The two city leaders of these North Shore Massachusetts towns say they continue to get requests from residents for an alternative service choice besides Comcast or a satellite provider.

Outside of Massachusetts, 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.

Despite these other cities' pleas for service, Verizon has yet to respond with any new commitments.

For more:
- see the release

Related articles:
Verizon's CWA, IBEW wireline workers may strike on Wednesday
Mass. mayors plead with Verizon to bring FiOS to their towns
Verizon faces pressure from unions to expand FiOS into new markets
Verizon's Frontier sale gives it a contiguous Northeast FiOS footprint, says Shammo

This article was updated on April 13 with additional informatoin from Verizon. 

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