WiredWest is designing a fiber-optic network that will enable high-bandwidth, affordable internet, phone, high-definition television services and ancillary services to all residents, businesses and institutions who are interested, in participating towns. A comprehensive project description is available here.
The design, building and operation of the network adheres to the following principles:
WiredWest will endeavor to serve every household, business and institution that is interested in service, in WiredWest participating towns.
Reliable, robust, future-proof technology of fiber:
Building a high-capacity, universal network for our region is essential – but upfront costs are also high. Thus, the network must last a long time and be capable of highly scalable, economic upgrades as needs increase. The only technology capable of delivering on this premise is fiber-to-the-home.
While it is justifiable to build a universal public service with taxpayer funds – which is the focus of efforts of the Massachusetts Broadband Institute with their proposed construction of backhaul and middle-mile infrastructure that will feed our proposed network – the “last-mile” network we are proposing will adhere to a business model that raises money independently of property taxes, and supports itself from subscriber revenues.
One of the reasons we don’t have fiber in rural areas today is that building the required infrastructure does not offer enough profit for the business model of private sector telecommunications companies. Unlike the high costs of capital, and profit requirement of the private sector, municipal capital investments can be written off over a longer period of time, and cost less to borrow and repay..
Communities are also driven by the “common good” principle of providing critical infrastructure that serves a larger constituency: individuals, businesses, schools, government entities and service providers. It not only provides the constituency with the essential tools to prosper, but also becomes a regional asset that employs people in the construction and operation of the network, and pays revenues for services back to the region. Even the Federal Communications Commission has endorsed community broadband as a “best practice” for bringing broadband to underserved communities.
Our Finance and Executive Committees are finalizing a business case that includes detailed projected pro-forma financial statements and a business plan. This information will enable WiredWest to seek financing.
WiredWest’s biggest challenge will be implementing a financing strategy that allows our network to be built out in a timely fashion. To develop such a strategy, we need to look at all available funding options, including:
- Local notes with capitalized interest to provide start-up funds;
- Grants and loans from state, federal and private sources;
- Municipal bonds through the authority of the Cooperative;
- Loan guaranties to make our bond offerings more attractive to investors;
- Public-private partnerships;
WiredWest is working with appropriate financial expertise to structure the business model and potential investment vehicles to be attractive to potential investors without placing undue pressure on debt service costs.
It’s important to note that the bulk of the community’s investment in broadband infrastructure will be in passive infrastructure that will have a conservative life span of thirty years or more. This is ample time for the project to recoup not only the initial capital investment, but also to receive regular income from the project.
Project Sponsorship & Fiduciary
Hilltown Community Development Corporation and WiredWest have entered into a sponsoring agreement to assist with administering grants, and issuing tax deductible receipts for donations towards WiredWest start up activities.
Funding Current Efforts
Ongoing expenses incurred from planning, including consultant and legal fees, have been met thus far by Committee and Delegate donations, and generous financial and in-kind contributions from WiredWest’s Partners and Supporters. This has amounted to close to $130,000 in direct donations and grants, in addition to hundreds of hours of volunteer effort.
However, we continue to require support to complete a comprehensive business plan that will enable us to proceed in an expedient manner. If the proposed WiredWest network will benefit you, your family or your business, we ask you to consider supporting the effort. Donations can be made securely online via PayPal, or a check can be sent to WiredWest at our address here.