Who is WiredWest?
Massachusetts laws allow towns to own and operate utility companies called Municipal Light Plants (MLPs). WiredWest is a Cooperative of town MLPs 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 now requires towns to individually own their networks. The state 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. There is information about the Regional Operation Plan in The Project. Some specific advice for planning networks is in Advice for Towns. You’ll find useful downloadable documents as they become available in Recent Info. Towns interested in participating in the Regional Operation Plan should sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by December 15 if possible.
This story may be downloaded at: WiredWest One Page Public Description
Some town officials think of WiredWest as a “Them” like another service provider trying to sell something. WiredWest is “Us.” It’s an approach to procuring services and managing our broadband networks as a team rather than individually. Now that we are nearing the point of putting networks into service, we have a choice of whether to manage them as individual towns or as a Coop. As we look to make that decision, it’s instructive to review some history.
Towns have already benefited tremendously by participation in WiredWest. Here are some examples:
- The Last Mile funding we are getting from the State is the result of a lobbying effort of WiredWest’s founders dating back to 2008.
- Most of what each of our towns know about building and managing broadband networks traces back to our (WiredWest’s) research and sharing of information, […]
- 12/6/2017 Response to DLS Guidance letter
- 11/30/2017 Posted Revised Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between towns and WW
- 8/17/2017 Posted WiredWest Financial and Business Management Procedures
- 8/5/2017 Posted announcement for Heath MLP Conference
- 8/5/2017 Posted Legal notes on MLP Authority
- 8/3/2017 WiredWest Backhaul and Edge Case Considerations for Adjacent Towns
- 6/21/2017 Template IGA for WG&E Network Design and Construction
- 6/12/2017 Plainfield Q&A
- 6/11/2017 Pole Primer in Advice for Towns section
- 5/14/2017 Info about map data
- 4/23/2017 Added Understanding WiredWest's Role also as a printable download.
- 4/22/2017 Updated Advice for Towns including town status and added Last Mile Infrastructure Grant Program
- 4/9/2017 Added One Page Description for Public Handout to the Recent Info page
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 able to work through your town’s costs to participate in the WiredWest regional solution
Copies of all materials presented at the workshop with updates are available here.
WiredWest: our cooperative solution for broadband internet in western Massachusetts
Get the Answers
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?