Verizon Communications Inc. will invest $200 million this year in Massachusetts, expanding the deployment of its FiOS video service to 30 new communities and extending broadband connectivity to 23 western communities that currently have no high-speed access.
Donna Cupelo, regional vice president for Massachusetts and Rhode Island, said the company anticipates passing 500,000 million households in 100 communities with FiOS services by the end of the year.
The extension of broadband connectivity via digital-subscriber line service was welcomed by state legislators. A report last year stated that 93 towns, mostly in the western region, have geographically limited or no high-speed options. Legislators are currently debating a bond proposal by Gov. Deval Patrick that would create a $25 million Massachusetts Broadband Institute, a nine-man board charged with insuring universal broadband availability. Legislators have stated the institute would not provide broadband but will work with companies that do.
Cupelo said the Verizon initiative is not in partnership with the state, however.
The communities to be upgraded from dial-up only access include Bicket, Blandford, Colrain, Cummington, Florida, Goshen, Hancock, Heath, Leverett, Leyden, Middlefield, Monroe, Montgomery, New Ashford, New Marlborough, Pelham, Plainfield, Rowe, Sandisfield, Tolland, Westhampton, Windsor, and Worthington.
Rep. Denis Guyer (D-Dalton) represents some of the communities in the area, many of which are ‘second home towns,” he said at the Verizon announcement. He said residents there such as lawyers, architects and graphic designers have indicated to him they would expand their businesses near their second homes if they had high-speed access.
Verizon plans to complete cable franchises in Ashland, Bellingham, Billerica, Danvers, Dover, Easton, Grafton, Hanover, Hingham, Hudson, Hull, Kingston, Lakeville, Malden, Marblehead, Mansfield, Maynard, Middleton, Milford, Millbury, North Andover, Northborough, Plymouth, Stoughton, Stow, Sutton, Taunton, Walpole, Westford, and Weston. These are in addition to the 92 communities served today.
One community specifically absent in that list: Boston. Though Verizon has been upgrading its plant in the metropolis, Cupelo said TV deployment is not on the schedule this year. The telecommunications company “is learning as we go" about deployments before it tackles a big city like Boston with its densely packed, multiple dwelling units, the executive said.