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Broadband Committee


Broadband Stories
Our neighbors (and would-be neighbors) talk about why they need broadband.  See their stories here.

Committee Members               

 

MaryEllen Kennedy- Co-Chair

Kathy Soule-Regine- Co-Chair

Sue Cloutier

Sue Dunbar

Tony Palmieri

Paul Chapin

Chris Misra


Email

broadband@newsalem-massachusetts.org


Mail

Stowell Bldg.

19 South Main Street

New Salem, MA 01355

 

Phone:  (978) 544-6437

 

 Meeting Schedule

As Posted

Broadband Update Spring/Summer 2017

April 4th

·        Westfield Gas & Electric (WG&E) presentation to the Broadband Committee, Selectboard and Finance Committee.

April 20th

·        WiredWest presentation to the Broadband Committee, Selectboard and Finance Committee.

April 24th

·        Grant application submitted to EOHED (Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development), the government agency now responsible for managing Last Mile funds that were formerly managed by the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI).

May 24th

·        The Governor announces the approval of the EOHED Grant funds for New Salem.

June 5th

·        The Selectboard and Municipal Light Plant (MLP) Manager sign the state contract to accept the EOHED Grant funds.

June 27th

·        Members of the Selectboard and Broadband Committee participate as one of five regional towns invited to a roundtable discussion of the Broadband Project with the Lieutenant Governor, the Deputy Director of the EOHED and Director of MBI. 

Late June

·        New Salem receives its initial disbursement of Grant funds from the state.  The $350,000 disbursement is for the Design/Engineering portion of the project and is the original amount promised. More disbursements will come as specific mile markers are met throughout the project.

July 17th

·        After extensive review by individuals and legal counsel, the Selectboard and the MLP Manager sign a contract with WG&E to design and build the fiber network for New Salem.

August 7th

·        Members of the Broadband Committee and Selectboard attend a Kick-Off meeting at the WG&E Headquarters in Westfield. In addition to a tour of the facility, details of the design/engineering and construction processes were presented by the WG&E Department heads.

August 16th

·        With Selectboard approval, the MLP Manager signs a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with WiredWest to participate in a regional solution for the operation and management of our network once it has been constructed.

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

Broadband 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 acceptable because:

·               - 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 the project.

·                - 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 guaranteed.

·                    - 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:

1. The Town of New Salem found the proposals from Charter Communications and Crocker Communications did not meet our town’s minimum requirements for broadband service,

2. The 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,

3. The 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.


The Select Board requested that MBI release the funds for this work as soon as possible.


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 

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Broadband Update and Network Mapping

The Broadband Committee and Selectboard had a very productive meeting with representatives from Westfield Gas & Electric (WG&E) and Precision Valley Communications (PVC) who visited New Salem this week. WG&E is the company New Salem has contracted with to design and build our fiber network.  They are employing PVC to do the field engineering, which is mapping distance and showing how to feed fiber to each dwelling.

 

Starting Monday, September 25, and continuing into the week of October 2, PVC will have 3-4 mappers in town to work on the field engineering.  They will be going down driveways and crossing properties wherever utility lines run. They will be using laser measuring devices (which look somewhat like cameras) to get detailed information to be used in the design of our network. The vehicles will have signs that say "Whip City Fiber" and the mappers will wear orange vests that say "Precision Valley Communications." Please do not be concerned if you see these vehicles and individuals.  This process is an integral part of designing our fiber network.

 

Please feel free to contact us at Broadband@newsalem-massachusetts.org  – The New Salem Broadband Committee

FAQ


NEW - WiredWest FAQs


Muni Networks excellent FAQ