As other cities — say Austin, Texas, Kansas City ( both Missouri and Kansas portions) and Provo, Utah — are getting fast internet thanks to Google Fiber, Boston lags far behind in connectivity, according to city counselor Mike Ross. And that’s a very bad thing for a city that wants to nurture and keep startup businesses here.
In a Boston Globe editorial on Monday, Ross said downtown Boston is woefully behind the times when it comes to internet connectivity.
“Greater Boston is littered with connectivity dead spots. Most troublesome are the gaps within those business districts where technology companies abound. Just talk to the entrepreneurs along the Red Line, from Davis Square to South Station.”
One particular sore point of locals, the Verizon FIOS commercial featuring actor Donnie Wahlberg (the pride of Dorchester) was shot around the city and touts super-fast FIOS fiber-to-the-home speeds. But as an irate Mayor Thomas Menino was eager to point out, Verizon does not offer FIOS in Boston. If you live in the city, your options are Comcast and RCN. Yuck.
Ross, who also ran for mayor in the primary, wrote the piece to encourage whoever is the next mayor to push for better connectivity options for businesses and customers.
“Our next mayor needs to bring together the telecoms, real estate community, tech leaders, and others to come up with a plan. We need to liberalize the permitting process to encourage the expansion of our connective networks, be they underground or in the air.”
There are many things Boston and Cambridge can and should do to attract and retain tech startups: better mass transit is one, but fast and stable Internet access is the cost of doing business: it is non-negotiable.
So, who do we call for Google Fiber?