How City-Run Internet Might Work in One Massachusetts City

A municipal Internet service run by the city could increase bandwidth tenfold and drop prices to consumers by about 30 percent, according to the CEO of a company seeking to bring the service to Quincy, Mass.

by / November 14, 2019

City councilmembers in Quincy, Mass., heard a proposal that would afford the city the opportunity to facilitate Internet service within its jurisdiction, according to a report by The Patriot Ledger.

Jeff Christensen, president of EntryPoint Networks, presented his vision of Quincy’s future to the City Council on Tuesday, which included increased broadband speeds and a 30 percent reduction in Internet costs for residents.

The presentation came on the heels of a city website deployed with the goal of soliciting feedback about increasing local Internet service options.

Christensen said a system could be put in place that would designate broadband as a “fourth utility,” accompanying water, sewer and electricity. The city would need to build, install and maintain between $42.5 million to $60 million worth of infrastructure, such as fiber-optic cables and telephone poles.

The funding for the project would be fronted by outside investors to be paid back by residents through their monthly Internet bill in what’s known as an “opt-in model,” Christensen said. This approach doesn’t require taxpayer money to begin development and bills would decrease to about $40 to $50 a month, which includes a $20 maintenance charge and would be about 30 percent lower than the national average of $70 per month, he said.

The proposal estimates it could take 20 years to pay for the infrastructure, which should be viable for 50 to 100 years, Christiansen said. Byproducts of an investment in a city-run broadband network are a 3 percent bump in property values and an increase in service provider options.

“We want people to commit to paying for the infrastructure and in return we’re going to give you tons of value and a lower monthly cost,” Christensen told The Patriot Ledger. “We’re going to drop the price people are paying, and this is going to be an improvement to their property.”

Councilman Ian Cain said the city currently has one option, Comcast’s Xfinity, for a service that is becoming more and more integral to everyday life. Cain said a paper version of the website survey will be distributed along with the city census in January.

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