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'State of Broadband Equity in Boston' report commissioned

The report to document the quality and accessibility of residential and small business Internet service.

Mayor Kim Janey, in partnership with the City’s Department of Innovation & Technology, today announced a partnership to document the availability, cost and quality of broadband internet services in Boston.  The State of Broadband Equity in Boston report will identify broadband offerings by neighborhood and identify any service opportunities or disparities within the city. 

“The last 18 months have underscored that internet access is a public good.  In those places where high quality broadband has been affordable and accessible, it has helped youth stay engaged in school, grandparents connect with their grandchildren, and employees remain productive while apart,” said Mayor Kim Janey.  “I want to ensure that every resident - regardless of zip code, age or income - has access to quality choices to get online.”

This will be the City’s first report on the State of Broadband Equity in Boston. Mayor Janey has requested broadband internet companies provide their service and pricing data by neighborhood to inform the report, which will be developed in partnership with CTC Technology & Energy, a consultancy with expertise in public technology strategy.  As part of the study, CTC will document residential internet options across the city, including their terms and upload and download speeds.  The City and CTC will launch a website that the public can use to share ideas and check the speed of their internet service. CTC will use this data to document the quality of internet service in Boston, the nature of Boston’s digital divide, and make recommendations about how service can be improved in the City. It is expected that the report will be completed in six months.

“The City has made significant investments to bring public services online, from community meetings to City permitting to public notices.  This summer, we also invested nearly $500,000 in nonprofit organizations to increase digital equity,” said David Elges, the City of Boston’s Chief Information Officer.  “This report will help us identify how and where it is best to invest those funds to close the digital divide.”

This report will build on the work of and update the digital equity report prepared for the Boston Human Rights Commission.  This previous report highlighted gaps in services that Boston residents experience.   

Digital Equity Investments and Listening Session Today

In addition to commissioning the State of Broadband Equity in Boston report, Mayor Janey has made significant investments in digital equity and has scheduled a listening session on the issue, as part of the Let’s Go Better campaign to prioritize the City’s American Rescue Plan Act spending. 

The City has also invested over $15 million in digital resources during the COVID-19 pandemic that have:

  • Distributed 7,500 devices to residents and families in need, 
  • Began distributing 3,500 annual subscriptions of Internet Essentials to household, and 
  • Supported digital training and skills development through a network of dedicated non-profits.
  • Strengthened the City's internet network and connectivity.

A public listening session today at 5:30PM will focus on resident  ideas and concerns on digital equity that can be addressed using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. In addition, the City plans to hire a Digital Equity & Inclusion Advocate to help guide grant rounds for the City’s Digital Equity Fund.

Boston is committed to bringing more equity and choice to residents throughout every neighborhood through the Digital Equity Fund; bringing Wi-Fi hotspots to the Boston Public Library's lending program; growing Boston's Wicked Free Wi-Fi program; and working to protect Net Neutrality rules that ensure a fair and open internet. All of these efforts aim to make the internet affordable and accessible for all Boston residents.

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