Notes From the Underserved

Bringing Broadband to Rural Massachusetts

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?

Residential Rates:

  • 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 Regional Management Plan. 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

March 31st, 2017|

Notes From the Underserved Archive

We can bring you broadband if we all pull together.

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November 18th, 2018|

WiredWest Is Town’s Cheaper Operator For Broadband, Say Consultants

“WiredWest Is Town’s Cheaper Operator For Broadband, Say Consultants”
By Katie Nolan
Montague Reporter
April 19, 2018

WENDELL – On Tuesday night, Jim Crowley of Holyoke Gas and Electric (HG&E) and Brian Richards of PineRidge Consulting presented a joint Wendell broadband committee and selectboard meeting with a comparison of costs for the town to operate a broadband network as an independent operator, or as a member of the WiredWest regional cooperative.

The consultants considered administrative costs such as insurance, electrical power for the network electronic equipment, pole licensing, accounting, audits, legal fees, maintenance of the cables and other outdoor equipment, internet service provider (ISP) subscriber fees, and network backhaul (high bandwidth connection from the town’s electronic operation location to their wholesale ISP).

The consultants’ report concluded that “Over time, as operator of a regional cooperative network, WiredWest could offer a better value to all members towns, as opposed to operating their network independently.”

Because the consultants’ presentation […]

June 23rd, 2018|

Why Choose the Coop Approach to Managing Town Owned Networks?

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, […]
December 8th, 2017|

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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?

Learn the answers & more!

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Meeting Information

WiredWest Board of Directors Meeting

December 19 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Wired West Executive Committee Meeting

January 2, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm

WiredWest Board of Directors Meeting

January 16, 2019 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Working together to build a state-of-the-art fiber-optic network to serve everyone and drive regional economic growth, create jobs, improve education and healthcare, and ensure a sustainable future for our communities.