Notes From the Underserved

A Fresh Start!

Who is WiredWest?

Massachusetts laws allow towns to own and operate utility companies called Municipal Light Plants (MLP’s). WiredWest is a Cooperative of town MLP’s joining together for operational efficiencies and cost savings. The coop is governed by delegates from the member towns for the purpose of delivering high quality broadband service to all residents of member towns.

What service will be provided and how much will it cost?

  • Standard  – 1 Gig service (= 1000 Mbps)  – $75/mo.
  • Economy – 25 Mbps service  – $59/mo (compare to DSL typically 3 Mbps).
  • Full featured phone service including unlimited domestic long distance can be added on for $19/mo.

Note that combining Internet with phone service can replace your Verizon service. You can keep your current phone number. Your town may add a surcharge to the fees above for town network expenses.

Why is it taking so long to get Broadband service?

Before WiredWest can deliver service, towns must build fiber broadband networks. The Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) originally said it would pay 40% of the cost and build a regional broadband network to be owned and operated by WiredWest. Many of you signed up when that was the plan. Since then, the MBI has changed course several times, now requiring towns to individually own their networks. The MBI’s shifting policies and cumbersome process have caused long delays. In response to our lobbying, the Administration is now offering towns grants of their full share of state funds to build networks independently of the MBI, to be owned by the individual towns. Progress should be much quicker now.

Why should towns build and own their own network?

Our current lack of broadband shows that we are not profitable enough for private providers. The state is offering them grants to build networks that they would own and operate. Some towns have received offers. But allowing a single private company to own our primary means of communication is a very risky proposition for our small towns. Private companies are primarily responsible to their owners or shareholders, not to their customers, and could sell the network at any time. Without competition and with low profitability, there is no incentive for them  to devote the resources necessary to provide high quality service to all residents. In some cases, they are offering to initially cover only a portion of the town. Without further subsidies the remainder of the town will never get service. Unlike phone service, Internet is not regulated, so companies have no mandate to reach all residents and there are no quality or price controls.

If towns own their network, important decisions that affect cost, coverage, and net neutrality and privacy policies will be under local control, not dictated by multinational corporations. Most of our towns do not have the resources to manage a network. However, working together through our WiredWest Coop, we can offer:

  • A large pool of resources and skilled volunteers
  • Economy of scale and bargaining power for lower prices
  • Ability  to reduce risk and increase stability
  • Commitment to customers, not stockholders
  • Profit sharing
  • Commitment to net neutrality and your privacy

What are the next steps?

If you support WiredWest, encourage your town leaders to learn more about how regional operations can reduce risk, save you money, and manage operations of your town-owned network. If there is an article on your Town Meeting warrant, vote to support the WiredWest membership fee to pay for the resources, legal advice, technical guidance and continued advocacy you receive as a member town.

This story may be downloaded at: WiredWest One Page Public Description

March 31st, 2017|

Notes From the Underserved Archive

We can bring you broadband if we all pull together.

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April 9th, 2017|

Towns pleased with changes to state broadband funding

Reprinted from The Recorder
By DIANE BRONCACCIO , Recorder Staff
Thursday, March 30, 2017

Local officials say they hope the state’s revised broadband policy will break the gridlock on which the internet build-out for unserved towns has stalled over the last two years.

“This new grant program is a huge step forward for last-mile broadband,” said Bob Handsaker, co-chair of the Charlemont Broadband Committee. “It ensures that all of the currently allocated state funds are fully available to towns that want to build their own fiber-to-the-home networks. More importantly, each town can control how those funds are used, allowing the town to select their own partners, minimize risk and make the state funding […]

April 1st, 2017|

Berkshire towns welcome change in Massachusetts Broadband Institute policy

Reprinted from the Berkshire Eagle
By Larry Parnass,

“Productive.” “Optimistic.”

After a year in the deep freeze, relations between state officials and broadband activists in Western Massachusetts appear to be thawing.

Leaders of WiredWest used the words above to describe their meeting last week with Carolyn Kirk, the state’s deputy secretary of housing and economic development.

Their session in Northampton came 15 months after a Massachusetts Broadband Institute policy reversal halted earlier collaboration. The gulf opened after a former MBI executive director urged town leaders not to enter into a regional broadband network agreement with WiredWest, citing financial issues.

Since then, tension has characterized relations between WiredWest loyalists and the state.

Last week’s […]

April 1st, 2017|

WiredWest Broadband Solution Workshop – January 28, 2017

This event was designed for members of Select Boards, Broadband Committees and Finance Committees to familiarize them with the details of the newly designed regional operations plan offered by WiredWest in order to weigh it against other options.

The plan presented covers operations of town networks after they are built. Since the Last Mile policy dictates that every town must build and own its own infrastructure, the new WiredWest plan is focused on providing towns a way to operate and manage their networks and deliver service to townspeople in a regional and cost-effective manner.

Town leaders were presented with the plan details, provided take-away materials, questions were answered and town leaders were […]

February 18th, 2017|

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WiredWest: our cooperative solution for broadband internet in western Massachusetts

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Q. When will we actually get broadband?

Q. Will subscribers have to keep their Verizon phone service to get WiredWest’s broadband service?

Q. Who controls the subscriber rates?

Q: How does MBI play into this?

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