Time to End Cambridge's Comcast Monopoly

For more than 30 years, Cambridge residents have been subject to a monopoly cable provider in the City. It’s time to end the Comcast monopoly, and bring forward a publicly-owned alternative.

If you believe we need an alternative to Comcast here in Cambridge, sign the petition to the City Manager to move forward on municipal broadband today and join us at our rally on September 9th!

In 1983, Cambridge residents fought to bid for local control of the nascent cable system being developed. In a citywide referendum, residents voted in an attempt to move the city forward with a public investment in Cable TV infrastructure, rather than allowing the system to be built by a private company. With more than 30,000 ballots cast, the result came down to the wire: after initially winning by more than 100 votes, a recount resulted in the referendum failing by just 38 votes, resulting in Cambridge’s path forward in granting a 15-year license to a private company which later became part of Comcast.

Protest sign outside Comcast headquarters in Philadelphia: “Xfinity is Bullshit”.

Protest sign outside Comcast headquarters in Philadelphia: “Xfinity is Bullshit”.

At the time, cable TV was limited to entertainment; most folks got by just fine with broadcast TV, and many didn’t see the reason for the city to invest in building its own cable system. Today, the descendant of that cable system -- in the form of Comcast -- provides not just cable TV, but is also the sole broadband internet provider for 90% of Cambridge residents. Rather than being limited to entertainment, the internet service provided by Comcast has become part of our daily lives.

in 2019, we have the chance to correct that mistake: We have the opportunity to invest in a municipally owned internet system in the City. To do so, we need your support!

In 2016, the City’s Broadband Task Force recommended unanimously that the City should move forward with a feasibility study on municipal broadband. Throughout 2017 and 2018, the City Council requested that the City Manager move forward on municipal broadband. The City Manager has steadfastly refused to do so: he insists that such an effort will bankrupt the city, despite hundreds of cities and towns proceeding with these networks, including more than a dozen in Massachusetts alone, dating back to the early days of the internet.

In Cambridge, we had the chance to keep Comcast from coming into town by building our own network in the 1980s. While we failed then, we don’t need to fail now. It’s time to end the Comcast monopoly: it’s time for Cambridge to build its own municipal broadband network.

Sign our petition today to demand that the City Manager move forward on Municipal Broadband.

(Photo courtesy of Steve Rhodes via Flickr.)