We are happy to see that MBI is encouraging “Regional cooperation” in this new Last Mile Policy. They are leaving it entirely up to towns to work out details, however some of the policies are contrary to operating a regional network, specifically: Ownership and required utilization of the MB123 middle mile.
MBI rejected WiredWest’s original regional plan because towns would not own assets in it’s borders individually. Rather, WiredWest would have owned the regional network and towns would own proportional shares. This eliminated edge case issues and reduced the construction cost by about 15%. In this new policy, MBI is now allowing, in fact encouraging, towns to turn over ownership of networks built in part with tax dollars to private companies in order to ease the burden of ownership. In many cases, this would put residents at the mercy of an unregulated monopoly. WiredWest’s regional management plan would similarly ease the burden of ownership by having the Coop hire vendors for operations and maintenance rather than each individual town, while at the same time allowing the towns to retain some degree of control over quality and pricing of services.
MBI is also waiving the requirement to connect and utilize the MB123 Middle Mile for private companies. WiredWest towns want to build a network with true fault tolerant ring topology as part of our individual town projects, supplemented by the Coop leasing or buying assets necessary to complete the regional network. Such a network would be more resilient, especially for towns that are on spurs of the Middle Mile and therefore vulnerable to outages of a whole town due to a single line fault. It also allows for shared bandwidth and network operations. In such a network, the whole regional network would need only a few connections to the Middle Mile, not one in each town, which would be much more expensive and less reliable. It’s unclear whether MBI would waive the requirement to utilize the Middle Mile for towns wishing to be part of a regional network operation.
We encourage towns to let MBI know that they would like MBI to work constructively with WiredWest on a regional plan and to waive the requirement to utilize the MB123 Middle Mile for the purpose of regional cooperation. This should be acknowledged in writing as part of the Participation Agreement.