Sunday, July 14, 2024

The release of the “Municipal Broadband in Cambridge: Feasibility and Business Model Options” report in March showed a path forward for digital equity and municipal broadband in Cambridge. We strongly urge the city to take this plan and begin work on building a robust, municipal broadband network that can serve every household and business in the city.

While the need for online connectivity has been growing for decades, the pandemic underscored to us all just how critical it has become.

Everything from education to conducting a job search, contacting loved ones and telehealth has moved online, yet many Cambridge residents still lack affordable Internet access. Participating in life today requires a reliable, fast connection and the skills to use it effectively.

An equitable community requires equitable digital access, and Cambridge has the opportunity to achieve this vision. In the same way Cambridge builds a school or library, or unlocks access to public transit, municipal broadband is fundamental infrastructure that pays dividends beyond its face value.

Residents at all income levels who seek access to the Internet from commercial providers have limited choices for lackluster service. Local businesses, a lifeblood for Cambridge, are often stifled by exorbitantly expensive Internet options with frustrating limitations. Those options have only gotten more expensive over time. As the 21st Century Broadband Report documented, a majority of Cambridge residents have concluded that a city investment in broadband infrastructure is worthwhile and required to correct the failed broadband marketplace.

These residents’ experience is that broadband provided by a large corporate monopoly does not operate in their best interests and that a municipally owned alternative – one that provides excellent service at fair and transparent prices, embraces net neutrality and protects subscribers’ privacy rather than monetizing their data – would be a welcome improvement.

Cambridge has a history steeped in technology. Yet for so many, access to that technology is out of reach. Its residents need a 21st century solution to that problem. Here in Cambridge (where the Internet was invented), it’s time to ensure that we all have robust and affordable access to the Internet.

We, the undersigned business associations, community organizations and nonprofits, urge the city to move forward with the next steps outlined in the broadband feasibility study to better understand the potential investment required to bring municipal broadband to Cambridge.

Upgrade Cambridge

Cambridge Community Foundation

Cambridge Local First

Cambridge Community Center