2012 was a busy year for WiredWest that included the addition of 16 new towns to the Cooperative, bringing the current membership to 42 towns eager to work together to create a long-term, comprehensive solution to the problem of inadequate broadband access.
Regular meetings of WiredWest’s organizational bodies were conducted throughout the year, with Board of Directors meeting monthly, Executive Committee meeting weekly and sub-committees meeting as needed.
Significant work was undertaken in 2012 to enable financing and buildout of the network. That work was made possible by grants from the Massachusetts Broadband Institute, Berkshire Regional Planning Commission and the Central Berkshire Fund, in addition to support from donations, Cooperative membership fees, and thousands of volunteer hours.
In the spring of 2012, WiredWest conducted a comprehensive market survey in our member towns. The survey provided detailed information on residents’ satisfaction and usage of existing services, and demand for new services. The results indicated strong demand for the network across the region, and they are being used to develop service offerings and support our pro-forma financial statements.
Last fall WiredWest launched a Support Card Campaign in its member towns. Local residents and businesses were asked to complete Cards to help WiredWest determine the level of interest for services in each town. The information will be used in network design and to provide assurances to potential financing sources. The campaign is continuing into the first quarter of 2013 and residents and businesses that have not yet completed a Card are urged to do so here as soon as possible.
WiredWest has created comprehensive pro-forma financial statements with input from other municipal fiber networks and appropriate financial expertise. The leadership team has met with a number of public and private financing sources and advisers to refine our financing strategy and put the project on track for financing in 2013.
To complete the engineering work required for financing, a database of detailed maps for the WiredWest towns was created. Potential network distribution locations in each town were also visited and evaluated for their suitability.
WiredWest hired Matrix Design Group to prepare a high level network design and cost estimates for the network. They have provided WiredWest with their final report and the options presented are being evaluated to create a final estimate for our financial statements.
FY 2013 Plans
WiredWest will be focused on finalizing the business plan, with a particular focus on the pro-forma financial statements, final network design and other information needed for financing, including the final numbers for the Support Card campaign.
WiredWest will also continue working with public and private financing sources to determine the best and most expedient strategy for financing the network. We will also continue to solicit grants and donations for interim funding, and will be completing an economic impact study to quantify the regional economic impact of the network which will be important to garnering grant support.