MBTA Wi-Fi project, as currently proposed, will not be advanced
Gloucester and Cape Ann Elected Officials Work Together to Communicate Concerns
BOSTON – The MBTA today notified BAI Communications that it will not approve the company’s current proposed implementation of the Wi-Fi system, under which BAI proposes to install approximately 320 seventy-foot monopoles along the Commuter Rail network’s rights of way.
In a letter to BAI, the MBTA said the proposal is not consistent with the license agreement, and cited concerns among members of the public and among federal and state legislators concerning the project’s impact on historic sites and community character.
“Gloucester is pleased about today’s announcement to halt the installation of Wi-Fi monopoles, especially since we didn’t get the chance to review any plans in advance,” said Gloucester Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken. “Thankfully, our administration worked across Cape Ann and the North Shore to share information, review the potential sites, and learn from our citizens what their thoughts were, which triggered a demand for accountability from all involved. We are grateful that our voices were heard by working together across local, state and federal levels.”
The MBTA said the license anticipated a more modest project involving the use of “short monopoles” or “existing light poles” to provide Wi-Fi, with only “excess space” available for lease to third party communication providers. BAI’s current proposal would double the size of every pole (and install an extensive fiber network) for the purpose of creating infrastructure to lease.
The MBTA has invited BAI to submit a new implementation plan that better reflects the more modest project anticipated by the license, on a timeframe that is consistent with the MBTA’s transportation and safety needs.
In light of the MBTA’s action, it is no longer necessary to discuss the Wi-Fi project at the August 14th meeting of the Fiscal and Management Control Board. Therefore, the Board will not be accepting public comment on the project.