Monday, May 20, 2024

When judging whether the city’s “21st Century Broadband” request for proposals is a good faith effort to include a municipal broadband feasibility study, one must note that the Digital Equity Study, conducted by industry experts selected by the city, recommended that it:

Conduct a municipal broadband feasibility study that allows exploration of a variety of partnership and facilitation models

In its press release, the city misstated this recommendation as being to: 

Develop a strategy that explores municipal and other options for increasing broadband competition

All eight other recommendations were stated correctly. 

When this inconsistency was brought to the city’s attention by councillor Patty Nolan, the city quietly changed the text, but the original remains on the Internet Archive as well as in the fiscal year 2022 budget book. Cheekily, the revised press release links “municipal broadband feasibility study” to its 21st Century Broadband request for proposals, though the text of that RFP never calls for such a study.

If the city truly wanted to conduct a municipal broadband feasibility study, it would not have taken the time to try and mislead the City Council and the public about a recommendation to do just exactly that.

Saul Tannenbaum is a resident of Cambridge and co-founder of Upgrade Cambridge. He was a member of the Municipal Broadband Task Force and Envision Cambridge Working Group.