How Boston's doubling down on its digital city transformation

 

Two years ago, the city of Boston announced a partnership with Council Lead Partner Verizon to undertake a city-wide transformation of its technology infrastructure. That meant replacing its existing communications system with a state-of-the art fiber-optic network platform to provide the city's residents, businesses, schools and other facilities with far more bandwidth and broadband speed — and to improve wireless service. While the initial agreement was for six years, the partners recently updated it to greatly increase its scope. As the story below illustrates, the Boston-Verizon partnership is a prime example of the value of collaboration and how it benefits both parties. — Doug Peeples


Boston's updated and expanded agreement with Verizon picks up where the first agreement left off and adds new initiatives to the city's digital to-do list.

Verizon will extend wireless service to neighborhoods not included in the original agreement and deliver its Fios internet and TV to them as well, doubling Verizon's initial $300 million fiber-optic network investment.

The telecom also will donate $1 million to the city's Digital Equity Fund to financially support local programs that deliver affordable broadband access to underserved citizens.

In a statement, Mayor Martin J. Walsh said "Our partnership with Verizon  reflects one goal: to make sure all of Boston's residents have access to the most advanced digital technology both now, and in the future."

Verizon Chief Technology Officer Kyle Malady said that in addition to residents and businesses, the city's universities, visitors, first responders and others all will benefit from the service expansion.

Beefing up 4G… and preparing for 5G
As a result of a new 10-year agreement Verizon also will substantially add to its wireless small cell network in Boston to bring more speed and capacity to its current 4G LTE network and to lay the groundwork for deploying 5G service in the future. The cells are typically installed on structures already in place like power poles and traffic lights. The cells and their placement are intended to augment typical cell towers and sites to meet capacity demand in areas where they get heavy use.

It's also noteworthy that the city will extend to Verizon a streamlined permitting process to enable the company to complete its small cell installations more quickly. Wireless communications industry trade association CTIA has called for a shorter permitting timeline for small cell deployment at all levels of government, citing anticipated substantial economic benefits and accelerated adoption of smart city technologies and other innovations 5G is  expected to deliver.

The agreement also calls for Verizon to provide many of its Smart Communities solutions that will help Boston enhance its services in several areas, including energy efficiency, public safety and traffic management.

In addition, the company is leasing 16 floors in Boston's tallest office building, five of which will be made available for accelerators, incubators and partners.