(TNS) -- MILTON – A committee to investigate the feasibility of setting up a town-run broadband utility was approved by the selectmen Tuesday night.
The action came after the board heard a report compiled by former school committee member Mike Zulas and Joe Chamberlin of Clapp Street.
"We think there are opportunities to be explored for better, faster, cheaper Internet in Milton," Zullas said.
Chamberlin said that Comcast is the dominant broadband provider in town.
"Comcast, with its market power, is able to charge whatever they want" and provide subpar service, subpar speed and capacity, he said.
Chamberlain said that the Comcast system relies on copper wires, instead of higher capacity fiber optic lines.
He said that 175 communities around the country operate municipal broadband systems, including 10 in Massachusetts. Braintree provides broadband and cable television service through its municipal electric utility.
The town could provide the service cheaper because they would not need to make a profit, Chamberlain said. It could also lease out portions of its system to third parties for additional revenue.
"You have the ability to use it the way you want, he said.
Zullas said the creation of a town broadband system would require "a major investment," but believes it is something the town should explore.
All three selectmen agreed.
"We're looking for efficiencies," said Selectmen Chairman David Burnes.
Selectman Richard Wells said "people get very frustrated" with the service and cost for Comcast broadband.
Selectman Katie Conlon added "I think it's worth exploring."
Zullas said the committee should include residents and town officials as well as representatives from the town's educational institutions and hospital.
The selectmen will discuss at a future meeting the charge and size of the new committee.
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