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Verizon Laying 800 Miles of Fiber Cable in Boston Will Change the Game for Beantown

Verizon and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh say the company will spend $300 million to install fiber optic cable throughout the entire city.

(TNS) -- The Hub will soon hit the fiber optic fast lane with the stunning announcement that Verizon has agreed to string 800 miles of Fios cable in a long-sought service that will speed up downloads, lower bills and supercharge the city’s booming tech sector.

“We can finally get to the 21st century,” said Boston University electro-physics Professor Siddharth Ramachandran. “This will push prices down and give people options.”

Ramachandran, who lives in Boston and has waited years for state-of-the-art Internet service, said engineers and high-end ’Net users will benefit immediately.

“You’ll be able to seamlessly use information at home or at work. It will make a huge difference in telecommuting,” he added.

Verizon and Mayor Martin J. Walsh said yesterday the company will spend $300 million to install fiber optic cable throughout the entire city, six months after company executives said it would not happen.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft is being credited with helping seal the deal by bringing Walsh and his deputies together with Verizon chief Lowell McAdam over lunch twice last year.

Now the city’s 655,000 residents will soon have a choice between Fios, Comcast and RCN. The city estimates 90 percent of its residents only have one Internet option.

“This is a game-changer for the city of Boston,” Walsh said. “There should be some competition on pricing, and I think that’s ultimately one of the things in some of the communities that people are looking forward to.”

The Fios service — that zips data in bursts of light — will replace copper lines in use now.

“This will be a fiber platform across the entire city, to service all,” said Bob Mudge, executive vice president and president of Verizon’s wireline network operations.

Over six years, Verizon will install more than 800 miles of fiber optic cable through the entire city, starting in Dudley Square, Dorchester and West Roxbury this summer, followed by Hyde Park, Mattapan, Jamaica Plain and other parts of Roxbury.

The deal was welcome news to some residents.

“I think it’s always good when you have competition,” said Eric Hall, 43, of Dudley Square. “It forces other companies to give better pricing.”

Added Hilario Reyes, 36, of Dorchester: “If you’re able to bring high-speed Internet to areas that are underserved, that would be the first step toward bringing technological equality to those areas.”

Once the fiber is installed, Fios television service will be available as well.

Verizon will also be able to install wireless equipment on city utility poles, improving Verizon cell service. The company plans to test its next-generation 5G cell service in Boston, the first city identified as a possible test location. Verizon’s 5G service is being tested and developed in part at its innovation center in Waltham.

Mudge added Verizon’s new focus on 5G played a big role in deciding to build in Boston, saying the lightning-quick service requires a fiber backbone.

In exchange, Boston has committed to streamlining the permitting process, including assigning city staff to deal with Verizon’s applications.

The new wave soon to hit the city also means Verizon’s old ad featuring Donnie Wahlberg espousing the benefits of Fios as he strolled through the streets of Boston might make a comeback.

“We’re thinking of pulling that one right off of the shelf,” Mudge joked. “You might see it tonight.”

©2016 the Boston Herald Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.