A network fiber break that knocked out the Internet for a good chunk of Worcester, Mass., has leaders refocused on improving local broadband connectivity and the option of municipal broadband.
(TNS) — A “network fiber break” that knocked out the internet for a good chunk of the city Monday has leaders refocused on improving local broadband connectivity and the option of municipal broadband, saying that the future depends on fast, reliable internet.
“I think the pandemic has shined a spotlight on inequalities and one of those inequalities is the digital divide,” District 5 City Councilor
A spokesperson for Charter-Spectrum — which provides service for more than 99% of the city’s internet users, according to a
The break occurred following some preparatory work for a local
The spokesperson declined to issue a statement for customers impacted by the break and declined to answer if there was anything that the company could do or is doing to prevent an outage from happening again in the future.
Residents first received a text notification from Charter-Spectrum at
The outage demonstrated the extent to which businesses, education institutions and others are dependent on the internet.
“There was not much we could do, unfortunately, these days everything runs on computers,” said
A spokeswoman for Attorney General
“This experience highlights how essential internet service is to our daily lives, especially during this time of remote learning and working,”
The outage also demonstrated the extent to which residents are dependent on Charter - Spectrum.
“Residents don’t have a choice, they’re stuck with Spectrum,” Wally said. “But we’ve got to make sure that everyone has access to fast, reliable internet access.”
“(Monday’s) outage illustrated the dependence of those in the city who have internet access dependent upon Charter-Spectrum and the lack of alternatives,” Matthews said.
But it’s not as if the problem of relying on a single internet service provider was unforeseen.
“We’ve been trying to push people along on this issue,”
“The substance of the reports is we’ve got to do as much as we can to leverage and push these companies to invest in
The report made four major recommendations: to encourage Charter-Spectrum to expand broadband services; to investigate the cost of all options for municipal broadband — which could range from a public/private partnership to a municipally run system similar to a municipal light company; to examine plans in process in other communities investigating or using municipal broadband; and to work with congressional and state delegations to encourage resources to help address the situation.
“The city has made a real effort here and continues to make a real effort ... to continue to explore any and all means addressing this going forward,” Matthews said. “This is going to be an ongoing issue for the foreseeable future, not just for the pandemic; but it’s really illustrating the importance of the internet to our future.”
Wally said he is eager to address the issue of internet availability and a potential municipal broadband network in his urban technology committee. But he raised several questions that still need to be answered before residents can download on a new network.
“What is the feasibility, what is the cost, and what can we do as a city to move down this road,” Wally said. “That’s our role: to decide if this is something we want to do. That’s our role: to get the answers to all the questions once we know what the questions are.”
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