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Lowell City Council Eyes Creating Municipal Broadband Network

January 30, 2019

LOWELL -- How often do you shake your head as you look down at another rate hike from Comcast Xfinity?

City councilors would like to give residents another option, in the hopes of lowering prices and providing fast internet service.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, City Councilor Karen Cirillo proposed that the city manager have the proper department develop a plan to design and build Lowell’s own municipal broadband network.

She called it a very important infrastructure project.

“Now everyone relies on internet access -- for work, for contacting people, for your TV, for everything,” Cirillo said.

Some municipalities have set up their own fiber networks, including Chattanooga, Tenn., said resident Ruth Potwin.

Cirillo encouraged the City Council and administration to follow that southern city’s lead.

“To better connect Lowell’s residents and businesses with each other and the world,” Potwin said.

Councilors pointed to Comcast’s rising rates, including City Councilor Vesna Nuon.

Nuon also highlighted City Councilor Jim Milinazzo’s recent motion for the city to consider RCN as an option.

“The more companies and options, the cheaper and enhanced benefit to our residents,” Nuon said.

The City Council has previously looked at creating a broadband network, said City Councilor Edward Kennedy.

The infrastructure costs were exorbitant, he remembered. This time around, officials should forecast the costs for 20 years or so, he said, seeing if it makes financial sense.

Maybe surrounding towns could join Lowell, Kennedy added.

“If Chattanooga can do it, Lowell can do it,” he said.

Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter @rsobeyLSun.

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