Update March 2017
The New Salem Broadband
Committee's mission is to bring high speed future-proof fiber Internet access to
New Salem in the most cost effective, equitable, minimum risk, high quality and
expedient manner possible.
At the end of January the
State received proposals from a number of businesses interested in providing
Internet services for towns in western Massachusetts. Proposals from Charter
Communications* and Crocker Communications included our town but they did not
meet our requirements. Fortunately, a proposal from Westfield Gas and Electric
Municipal Light Plant to design and build a fiber-to-the-home regional network
which would be town-owned and operated under the management of WiredWest did
meet all of our criteria.
*Charter’s offer to New Salem is contingent upon
acceptance by all other towns it proposed to serve which appears extremely
unlikely at this point since at least one other town has already declined.
Charter’s offer was not
- They do not plan to cover the entire town and
we would not know which part(s) of town would not be built out until well into
- Charter provide a fiber/coax Hybrid
build (Cable) which is not the best available link to the Internet.
- No redundancy would be in the build. We would
be on a one cable run from Orange to Shutesbury. If a storm/accident damages
anywhere along that line there is no other route to switch over to while
repairs are done.
- We would have to negotiate a Cable Licensing
Agreement with Charter which would mean legal expenses and an additional delay
in the build.
· - Charter would own the network; we would have
no control of costs or guarantee of network neutrality.
Crocker Communication’s offer
was unacceptable because:
- Proposed town coverage was very low and not
· - Subscribers would be required to take out personal
loans to subsidize the construction of the network which Crocker would own.
In February, after reviewing
all options, the Select Board sent three resolutions to Massachusetts Broadband
Institute (MBI) letting them know that:
Town of New Salem found the proposals from Charter Communications and Crocker
Communications did not meet our town’s minimum requirements for broadband
Town of New Salem prefers to build a municipally owned ‘fiber to the premises’
broadband network and we support the WiredWest Regional Broadband Solution to
manage and operate the Town network on a regional basis in conjunction with
other towns that subscribe to services offered by WiredWest,
Town of New Salem is interested in working with Westfield Gas & Electric MLP
(WG&E), with WiredWest, to provide Design and Engineering services and
construction Project Management for our town-owned network.
Select Board requested that MBI release the funds for this work as soon as
At the end of February the
Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) announced
that towns who wish to move forward on their own will get their full
professional services allocation. This means that New Salem has access to its
original portion of the State funding, a total of $750,000, to move the broadband project forward.
Thanks to all members of the
Select Board and Broadband Committee who have worked so hard with our
legislators, the governor’s office, the MBI, and town leadership across the
state to bring about this positive change.
Further updates will be
forthcoming as the project progresses. If you have questions in the meantime please contact us at Broadband@newsalem-massachusetts.org.
The New Salem Broadband Committee
November 2016 Broadband Update
On March 14, the Baker-Polito Administration with the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) issued a joint letter to participating towns supporting the concept of “last mile” broadband projects. This effectively signaled the end to the Governor’s months-long “pause” on the broadband project.
Our participation in a May petition to the Governor and other political action paid off in a clear directive from the governor for the project to begin. New Salem was chosen as one of the six first round towns.
As it has been MBI’s policy not to fund a shared regional ownership, all towns must build and own their network. In response, WiredWest has developed an alternate plan to regionalize management, maintenance and a shared Internet Service Provider to comport with state guidelines and benefit from a regional operations model – but not ownership.
Members of the Broadband Committee, Selectboard, Finance Committee, and the Town Clerk have been working since June with MBI and the State on a process to assess New Salem’s financial viability to own and operate a sustainable broadband network. We are pleased that MBI is assisting us in these efforts and that WiredWest is providing advice and support as we move through this process.
We completed our town readiness profile assessing financial viability and received our “green light” letter from the State and Bond Counsel in August.
In September, we received our final approval from MBI and can proceed with the preliminary step of the construction project, which is a pole survey.
New Salem is scheduled for pole surveying to begin on November 13. This is expected to take four to five weeks to complete and is paid for entirely by funds from MBI. You may see workers and trucks marked “Osmose” along town roads during this time.
Further details of our plans will be laid out through additional communication and informational sessions in the coming months. We do not want to miss this chance to bring broadband to New Salem, as it will not come around again.
-- The New Salem Broadband Committee
June 2016 Broadband Update
Members of the Broadband Committee, Selectboard and Finance Committee are currently working with Massachusetts Broadband Institute and the Massachusetts Department of Local Services on a process to assess New Salem’s financial viability to own and operate a sustainable broadband network.
As the state will not fund shared regional ownership, all towns must build and own their own network. WiredWest has developed and is modifying an alternate plan to regionalize management, maintenance and share a common Internet Service Provider in order to comport with state guidelines and benefit from a regional operations model – but not ownership.
In the meantime, we are moving forward with steps that the state has set forward in order to proceed with the build so that our participation in the project is not delayed. We are pleased that MBI is assisting us in these efforts and that WiredWest is providing advice and support as we move through this process.
It is yet unknown what changes this will bring to residents in terms of monthly subscription costs and service. We will hold a townwide information session when we know enough to make such an event meaningful and productive.
MaryEllen Kennedy and Kathy Soule-Regine, Co-Chairs, New Salem Broadband Committee