Regional Broadband FAQ’s

No, WiredWest’s service will be delivered on separate lines. Subscribers can either keep their Verizon phone service or replace it with WiredWest’s optional phone service. Whereas Verizon offers DSL on top of phone service, WiredWest offers phone service on top of internet service.
Possibly in the future. There is a trend toward more and more TV and Movie content being offered directly from the internet through free or subscription services. WiredWest will provide information to subscribers with advice about what is available.
It is up to your town to decide which homes get connected and how to pay for the cost of running fiber from the curb to each home and installing in-home electronics. This is all part of the build process. WiredWest will charge a $99 one-time activation fee to begin service at a home following the build.
Part-time residents can start and stop internet service at will. Customers who have phone service must pay a minimum charge of $10/mo fee to keep their phone number while their service is suspended.
It is up to your town to build your network with or without the assistance of the MBI. After your network is built, you can begin service with WiredWest. So, your town’s timeline depends on when you can get your network built. Typically the whole process to build a fiber network takes 2-3 years.
WiredWest will provide basic equipment and design specifications that should be built into your network. These specifications will meet industry standards. The MBI has said that they were planning to incorporate regional design anyway into their build so this will add negligible cost.
Hopefully not at all. The MBI is only concerned with managing the build at this point and have stated that operations of networks are up to the towns.
The WiredWest board (made of delegates from each member town) will monitor closely the cash flow for the cooperative. In case there is a shortfall, subscriber rates could be increased to cover the difference, in the following year. The current business plan is designed to be very conservative and makes every effort to ensure that the cooperative is a success. Please have your finance committee contact the WiredWest team to explore the business model and pricing structure in depth if you have any concerns.
The WiredWest board (made of delegates from each member town) will decide how to use the excess. First priority is accumulating reserves sufficient to handle emergencies like ice storms. Then, any excess funds will be returned to the towns proportional to top line subscription revenue. In future years, prices could be reduced if there is a lot of excess money; but please do not count on this happening.
The WiredWest board (made of delegates from each member town) will control the subscriber rates by 2/3 majority vote. Rates are determined by how much contracted vendors are charging to deliver service, combined with other operation expenses such as insurance and maintenance. To see how rates are calculated under the current model, please contact the WiredWest team.
There is no easy answer because it depends on how many subscribers are in each of the joining towns but the current rates could work for a as few as five towns.
In the case of a large ice storm that damages parts of the network, crews would immediately be sent out to make repairs. The ring structure of the design means that service could be rerouted instantly in many situations so customers would not lose service. Payment for the repairs would either be paid for by operations reserves or in the case of larger storms or damage, paid for by insurance retained specifically for weather events. One of the benefits of the regional model is that a weather event is unlikely to cause a financial emergency since the risk is spread out between all member towns. All towns share in the risk and benefits.
Most towns do not have to vote again. If your town is has already approved the tax bond to finance the build of your network, then you have what you need to start your broadband project. Remember, the WiredWest solution is a way to sustainably operate and maintain your network using a regional cooperative – but your town must build it first!
Depreciation Reserve is money set aside each year to be used to replace assets when necessary. In the case of a fiber network, the fiber itself should last 50 years or more, so this is not an immediate concern. Equipment needs to be replaced every 7-10 years, so some money should be set aside for this. The State law requiring MLP’s to put 3% of the value of replaceable assets in depreciation reserve each year does not apply to telecom MLP’s set up to deliver internet service. See MLP Deprecation Reserves for Broadband MLP’s
This will be determined as a policy for each town since it relates to the network build and ownership.
1. Carefully examine your town finances to verify that your town can afford to build the network, and to operate it using the competitively-priced services offered by WiredWest.
2. Enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with WiredWest, indicating that your town wishes to use WiredWest services after your network is built. Knowing which towns are “in” will greatly help the planning, design and build process!
3. Build your network with the help of the MBI or independently.
4. WiredWest will assist with town-wide marketing and advertising and help your townspeople sign up and begin service.
The prices we have received from the two vendors are in writing and are in response to an RFI that was issued in October.  Further conversations have locked those prices in for 5 years.
The intent is to connect each town’s hut to its neighbor’s huts using the fiber that runs from their hut to their border and splicing with their neighbors fibers to form a ring. If a town is not contiguous with a participating neighbor we will have to buy lit or dark fiber from MBI or other vendors (Light Tower fiber from Shutesbury to Rowe for instance) to complete the rings.  Backhaul to Greenfield from Leyden to connect the norther ring and backhaul from Tolland to Springfield to connect the southern ring.  If we can’t get a long term IRU the publish price for dark fiber is $60/strand/mile/month so a 20 mile strand is $14,400 or $28,800 which is the cost of a 2gbps connection with no limit to speed.  Obviously we won’t know the total costs until we know which towns are participating and we work with the design engineers and Axia to solve the problems.
What we are seeking from the service providers is an all-inclusive price per customer for all necessary services to save the towns from having to manage everything on their own. The fees collected by subscribers will cover all tasks related to operations PLUS pole licensing, pole bonding, and outside plant insurance. It will all be handled by WiredWest.
Running a broadband network involves significant work and technical and business experience but any town could do it on their own if they choose.

The advantage of acting cooperatively is that it saves towns from having to manage their networks and as a group we’re getting better prices for services because we have more bargaining power for negotiating terms and price. WiredWest provides the service of acting as an agent and broker and source of centralized information on behalf of participating towns – plus cost sharing. An unseen benefit that many towns have already experienced is having a larger pool of skilled volunteers working on your behalf than what each town alone can provide.

Most operational costs to the town to run a network are covered by subscriber fees.  No MLP fees are required, but a town fee may be added to subscriber’s bills to cover that town’s depreciation reserve.  Each town gets to decide if and how much to charge for their town’s surcharge. Towns may choose to add all or a portion of their debt service.  This is a different model than what Leverett is doing so there is no MLP fee.
The policy is that the surcharge can only be used for MLP related expenses. It is up to each to town to decide what to charge for their town fee and how to use it. Surcharges should be kept to a minimum as the increased cost to subscribers may decrease take rate and therefore reduce income.  
So much of the day-to-day operations of the network will be handled by the vendor contracted to provide management that WiredWest will need to maintain very little overhead. For the first year of operations, only a part-time accountant will be needed to collect payment from the vendor, pay licensing fees for utility poles and distribute town fees appropriately. All support calls coming in from customers will be going to the vendor who will also monitor and solve any network issues. The WiredWest board of directors, made up of representatives from member towns, will meet once a month to handle any ongoing policy or business decisions. The Executive Board working on a volunteer basis will be available for any questions or problems that might arise where the vendor will need direction in between Board of Director meetings. Note that both vendors who submitted bids said they saw no need for an ongoing WiredWest Manager position using the current business model.