Upgrade Cambridge Announces Petition Calling for Next Steps for Municipal Broadband

(September 25th, 2018) Upgrade Cambridge announces today a petition campaign calling on City Manager Louis DePasquale to conduct a full and fair economic feasibility study for municipal broadband.

In September 2016, after two years of study, the City Manager’s Broadband Task Force made three recommendations to move the City’s deliberations on broadband forward:

  • Engage with residents who have trouble affording broadband to design a solution that meets their needs

  • Engage with the business, entrepreneurial, and corporate communities to assess their needs and identify potential anchor users

  • Perform a detailed financial feasibility study, understanding costs and revenues in a highly granular manner

DePasquale has indicated that he intends to implement only the first recommendation. He has rejected the economic feasibility study saying:

The potential for a $200 million capital investment to build a fiber to the premise broadband system in Cambridge and millions more to run and maintain a broadband system is not in the City’s financial plan.  Funding of a municipal broadband system would have a direct impact on existing priority areas such as affordable housing, expanding early childhood education, investing in street infrastructure, our school reconstruction program and school budget allocation, the Foundry Project, and improving the conditions of municipal facilities, including fire stations.

Besides exaggerating the likely cost, DePasquale ignores the fact that a broadband system would generate the revenue to pay for its construction and operation.

“Preserving a free and open internet is aligned with Cambridge core values. Cambridge residents deserve a full and fair economic analysis of its costs, revenues and benefits, not a rejection out of hand,” said Saul Tannenbaum a co-founder of Upgrade Cambridge.

“In the city that invented the internet, customers are trapped with a single monopoly provider, resulting in service which is slow, unreliable, and expensive. Other communities with fewer financial resources than Cambridge have figured out how to build something better. Why can’t Cambridge?” said Upgrade Cambridge’s Christopher Schmidt.

“Most Cambridge residents and small businesses spend a lot for substandard service from a single monopoly internet access provider. It is time that we start investing in Cambridge not in Comcast,” said Roy Russell, co-founder of Upgrade Cambridge.

The petition can be found at https://upgradecambridge.org/petition.

Press inquiries should be directed to press@upgradecambridge.org.