NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

January 16, 2014

Going after an alternative to Comcast

To the editor:

It frustrates me that Comcast is the only vendor of high-speed broadband Internet access in the city of Newburyport.

While some residents use Verizon’s DSL network and others get Internet service from satellite, Comcast owns the local monopoly on broadband — and I intend to find alternatives.

Four years ago when I led a grass-roots movement to solicit Google to install a fiber network here, I met a lot of people and gained a lot of knowledge. For instance, do you know that while Verizon never connected its FIOS, or fiber optic service, to homes and businesses here, they installed a lot of it along Low Street and other main trunks in the city — to get from Salisbury to West Newbury? Yet, we can’t touch it.

Comcast employs a hybrid fiber-coaxial cable in their broadband network; it could provide speeds between 10 and 100 megabits per second. My own speed averages 20 mbps to download and 5 mbps to upload. Fiber is faster with standard speeds between 10 megabits to 10 gigabits per second. Do you know there is a municipal fiber network that connects City Hall with the schools and PortMedia? Could that be expanded for residents? Do you know that several private companies offer fiber to corporate clients in the city? Could that be daisy-chained to residents?

Do you know about the OpenCape network on Cape Cod and the Three Ring Binder network in Maine that offer opt-in aggregated regional broadband service? Could we partner with other Merrimack Valley or Cape Ann communities and offer the same?

I want to revisit the topic of Internet service — and fiber, specifically — through a series of public forums. I intend to schedule the first forum in early February.

Please email me at ariherzog@gmail.com or drop a note in my box in City Hall if you are interested in participating. I already have a list of about 20 residents.

Ari Herzog

Councilor at-large, Newburyport

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