Network Initiatives

BoNet & Network

Boston continues to build on its carrier class optical network deployed by DoIT over the last four years. Over the past year, we have enhanced the BoNet (Boston Optical Network) foundation to enable new, mission critical applications, such as the City’s Public Safety Radio transmission, providing cost savings of over $400 per circuit per month, saving the City more than $1M per year. It is important to note that BoNet  operates with a high availability rate of 99.99% - a critical metric for public safety communications.

We have also leveraged BoNet by adding seven additional (and free to users) WiFi Hotspots throughout the City. These network extensions include public parks, common areas and also bring free WiFi capabilities to several of our underserved neighborhoods.   

BoNet’s reach is now extending to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, collaborating with the MBTA (state transportation authority) and other state agencies to enhance video asset sharing and improve public safety information flow between city and state agencies. Loop A – 492 strands of fiber – interconnects local and state government offices in Cambridge and Boston to the statewide fiber backbone, saving money on leasing fiber or paying for network interconnection from a provider.

The City’s Transportation Department is now using BoNet for cameras and traffic control, synchronizing light signaling to accommodate traffic patterns. BoNet is also being leveraged to improve energy efficiencies as City agencies are using the network for data collection and video monitoring of fuel consumption in 8 locations. 

We continue to replace CENTREX and rollout VOIP (Voice over IP), our cost effective phone communications systems which utilizes BoNet as the communications backbone. To date, 2,000 IP phones have been successfully deployed throughout City Hall, Police Headquarters, District stations as well as many off-site City agencies. 

Broadband Strategy

The initial investment in BoNet began the City’s commitment to “Connecting Boston” with broadband capabilities. It has connected hundreds of city facilities, allowing City departments to work together to support the citizens of the City. It was also instrumental in our deployment of more than fifty Public Computing Centers (PCCs) that now provide computer and internet access to many of the City’s underserved neighborhoods. BoNet directly supports the lives and livelihoods all of our residents, visitors and businesses.   We are active voices in the work to deliver an interoperable, national broadband network for our public safety first responders. The City of Boston was the first city in the country to request an FCC waiver for the use of wireless spectrum made available through the Digital TV transition. Although the City was not able to deploy a network with this waiver, Boston has been a regular member of the OAC (Operator Advisory Committee) that been instrumental in developing the standards (with NPSTC -National Public Safety Telecommunications Council) and developing a plan vision for FirstNet. Boston is also actively involved in FCC proceedings that impact broadband competition and deployment across our city, region and the nation. Most recently that activity addressed the spectrum transfer agreements between the cable industry and Verizon.

Boston’s broadband strategy recognizes that broadband affordability and adoption is critical to improve the lives of our residents and the success of our small businesses. Boston’s negotiations with Comcast in 2011 led to an low cost option for internet access for all of our income eligible participants of Boston’s Sustainable Broadband Adoption (SBA) programs. This program was ultimately replaced by Comcast’s 2011 introduction of their Internet Essentials program.

Our premier technology adoption program - Tech Goes Home (TGH) - has gained national recognition as a model digital literacy training and has been endorsed as an exemplary broadband adoption program in the National Broadband Plan.  TGH has received funding and awards for innovations in program design and delivery that demonstrate the organization's impact beyond Massachusetts.  TGH trained 8,468 Boston residents in 2011, and followed that up in the first half of 2012 with an additional 9,648 program graduates. In addition to the training, 3,916 netbooks were provided to families following training and 103 tablets given to students with significant disabilities.

Tech Goes Home