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Expanding broadband in Boston

Learn about Boston's fiber optic network, and how we're expanding it.

The City of Boston fiber network for municipal use is called “BoNet”. It was initially developed using fiber infrastructure owned by Comcast, RCN, and now Verizon. BoNet is contractually provisioned to the City through Cable Franchise Agreements.  The City of Boston’s cable franchises incorporate elements of a City-managed fiber optic network. They ride on the dark fiber of cable providers and additional City-built fiber assets. 

About the network

Since its 2008 launch, BoNet has grown to support a wide array of users and systems across Boston. The network provides connectivity to nearly all:

  • public schools
  • municipal buildings, and
  • City agencies.

The network is growing from its initial configuration of 120 sites interconnected via an 11 core-site ring to more than 270 sites through:

  • an initial agreement with Comcast
  • a subsequent agreement with Verizon
  • the incorporation of one RCN fiber run, and
  • now the ongoing provisioning of leased fiber from Crown Fiber.  

The network leverages a fiber optic link installed in the early 1990s as well. This link connects City Hall to:

  • the Fenway's Fire Alarm Building, and
  • seven City buildings along the path. 

The City-owned fiber network reduces leased cost expenses and increases the speed and capacity of City online services. The City's Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) pursued the franchise dark fiber. DoIT also planned the Boston Fiber Optic Network as an alternative to leased lines for data and video traffic between:

  • various City locations, and
  • the core networks of the City. These include City Hall, schools, libraries, and fire and police stations.

The Metropolitan Area Network core network efficiently supports City’s next generation data. It also supports video and telecommunications requirements.

The City designed and installed carrier-class equipment and redundancy on the network ring. This includes DWDM optical electronic gear.  The primary objective of the network is to:

  • meet the growing demand for connectivity, and
  • reduce the ever-increasing leased line costs. We do this by transitioning administrative, public safety, and City services data traffic onto this new fiber optic network.

Initially planned as a data network, the project was scaled for the incorporation of voice and video.

The network positions the City to achieve increased cost savings and avoidance.  By operating its own fiber network, the City saves millions per year in telecommunications costs. There's also a unique federal reimbursement program that exists for broadband services to schools and libraries. This program presents an opportunity for a quick return on this investment.

Aside from saving money, the network vastly improves City services. It enables further deployment of online services and tracking for constituent applications, such as 3-1-1.

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