Dec. 04--The first Boston customer accounts for Verizon's high speed FiOS internet service could come online in the next few weeks, the company says, as the city prepares to grant a crucial license to the cable and communications giant.
"We are planning to begin offering FiOS in parts of our very first service area later this month," said Michael Murphy, a spokesman for Verizon. "We estimate that by year's end Fios services will be available to approximately 25,000 premises in Dorchester, the Dudley Square Innovation District of Roxbury, Roslindale and West Roxbury."
Verizon said earlier this year it would spend $300 million over six years to install high-speed fiber optic lines throughout the city, beginning with Dudley Square, parts of Dorchester and West Roxbury.
Boston has no authority to oversee internet service in the city, but does have the power to regulate cable television providers, which Verizon aims to offer as well.
A draft cable license -- a requirement to offer cable television -- is expected to be approved soon, clearing the way for Verizon to begin selling and marketing FiOS.
"My expectation is we will make a decision quite quickly, as soon as next week," said Jascha Franklin-Hodge, chief information officer for Boston. "We anticipate being able to reach an agreement on a final agreement in the near term."
The license only grants Verizon the ability to serve certain neighborhoods, but can be expanded. The license says Verizon must offer service to anyone who wants it, with some exceptions experts said are relatively standard.
One thing the license does not include is requirements for Verizon's workforce, including mandating union labor, which advocates pushed for -- and got -- in license negotiations between Verizon and Philadelphia last year. But Myles Calvey, business manager for IBEW Local 2222, which represents Boston's Verizon workers, said those provisions weren't necessary because Local 2222's contract says Verizon must use union workers and cannot hire non-union contractors.
Calvey said the FiOS installation has brought some much-needed work for the union.
"This has been a resurrection for us, we had been dying on the vine, no one was taking copper wires," Calvey said, referring to copper lines historically used for phone and slower internet connections. "Nobody was getting landlines anymore, this brought new work and good work."
Verizon also said it would also fund a mobile hotspot lending program through the Boston Public Library and work with city officials on "smart city" projects. Neither of those are included in the license, but a BPL spokeswoman said the hotspot lending program is in development.
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