Readiness Submission Form

(Updated 9/15/2016)

Much of this can be tweaked during the Design and Engineering phase. Some key points:

Choose Model D: Individual Municipal Network model. If you look underneath, it does allow for becoming part of a regional network. It’s the only option that MBI has really considered so far. If you choose C: Multi Municipal or F: Other, you’ll just get stuck. They haven’t decided what to do with it. Elsewhere on the form, you can elaborate with your preferences for being part of a regional network, MLP Coop, or even specifically WiredWest (we encourage that). It doesn’t seem to hinder acceptance. It’s also good to ask for language to be put in agreements reserving the right to change models later. This also seems to be acceptable to MBI.

2.1: Professional Services

If you choose MBI to manage your project, you get the full allotment of state funds available. There are no overruns on the professional services which include pole survey, design and engineering, etc. If you don’t use MBI, you lose that portion of the State money. WiredWest is exploring options and does not have a definitely recommendation at this point. Check back later.

2.2 Utility Attachment Agreements

Towns have to get these pole attachment contracts signed directly with the pole owners. You also need insurance and since most towns already have MIIA, that will probably be cheaper than PURMA. But there are some catch 22’s: Verizon and MIIA each want the other to sign first and there are disagreements over what should be in the contract. MBI is attempting to help with this and should get them to agree on some standard forms. MBI is now recommending that towns proceed with their pole surveys that MBI will supply, but hold off on the attachment agreements until the project is ready for them. The attachment agreements do not have to be in place to complete the readiness process.

Verizon has a separate conduit and aerial agreement. If you apply for both at the same time, the one fee covers both. If you apply for them separately, there are two fees. If you have conduit in your towns, ask for both agreements at the same time.

See Pole Attachment Agreement Process for more details.

We are told that this is the most important part –  to show that towns have lined up their financing. DLS ( the Division of Local Services, a branch of DOR) must approve the financing plan in writing. See our advice about town financing for a way to fund your projects using the State House Notes Program and avoid the cost and complication of issuing bonds.

  • Make sure your numbers tie with what MBI provided you for your town.
  • On the Funding Source chart:
    • State grant – put in what your town’s portion of the state grant – what you’ve been allocated.
    • Municipal Borrowing – what your town approved
    • Free Cash / Stabilization – can be listed as TBD for this process
    • Levy Capacity – can be listed as TBD for this process

Total Project Budget – the total of the State grant and Municipal Borrowing numbers above. This is all that is needed to get through the DLS part of the process.

Section 3.4 Financial Advisor and Bond Counsel Information

Washington’s Bond Counsel, Rick Manley, raised a question about the use of the Debt Authorization that contained wording, “such project to be carried out by the Town’s Municipal Light Plant acting as a member of a cooperative of such Plants …” Similar wording was used by a number of WiredWest towns. After careful consideration, the Green Light Letter was issued with the understanding that Washington’s MLP is acting as a member of a Coop (WiredWest) and does intend to provide service as part of the Coop. The fact that MBI is requiring Towns to build individual networks as an interim step does not affect the intent of the project. A full explanation is available here.

Section 3.5 Setting up the Accounting Procedures

  • Do not set it up so it’s combined with Town expenses.
  • Set it up as an Enterprise Fund or a separate set of books for the MLP
  • Enterprise legislation is a bit onerous.
  • If you create a separate set of books you don’t have the Enterprise accounting legislation and the rules that go with it hanging over your head.

You can choose one method now and change to the other method later.

Each town should identify how their individual MLP’s were set up.

5.1 Network Topology

Other choices may vary by town.

  • WiredWest recommends GPON (Gigabit Passive Optical Network) as the technology of choice. It’s cheaper than ActiveE and easier to maintain. ActiveE is a mature solution. Research is going on to improve GPON. GPON is what all the incumbents are building.
  • We also recommend “home-runs,” i.e. each premise gets a dedicated strand of fiber to the hut. All switching done in the hut. This is a little more expensive to deploy but gives you the greatest flexibility for allocating bandwidth and is cheaper to maintain (fewer truck rolls to solve problems).
  • The size of the cables that will be strung need to have the capacity for future growth. Plan for spare fiber.
  • There are a number of towns that are on an MBI spur which means they have no redundancy. MBI understands the need for redundancy. We need to remind them of its importance during the design phase of the project.
  • As the towns are being built out as independent, stand-alone silos, we need to press for them to be constructed so that there is 4 to 10 fiber strands that go to a mutually agreed upon border/demarcation/splice point(s) between adjacent towns. Connecting the towns in rings of a common network allows G.8032 Ethernet Ring Protection Switching to be enabled for automatic failover for redundancy. Each town should press to have their networks designed with this capability in mind.
  • Rings can also be virtual and completed with leased dark fiber.
  • We plan to set up one or several interconnected rings with only a couple of connection points to supply bandwidth, eg from Boston, Springfield and/or Albany. This allows shared bandwidth at consolidated cost. Ethernet Ring Protection Switching automatically re-routes traffic if a line is broken somewhere and prevents looping through the spare circuit.  If you connect directly from your town to Springfield, Albany or Greenfield rather than as part of a ring, then you’re a standalone entity with no redundancy for backup and pay higher prices for bandwidth.) See Linking Networks to Form a Regional Network for more details.
  • Goshen is pushing for two strands to be dedicated for emergency services to be used for police, fire and highway personnel in radio transmission dead zones. All towns should be asking for it as well so this can become a regional solution.
  • We have requested the Pioneer Valley Homeland Security agency to work with UMass and others to conduct the research that will help us identify those areas of concern.

5.2 Service Coverage

  • MBI wants 96% coverage. We should be asking for 100% + coverage to include seasonal properties, growth and failures so you have spares.

5.3 Service Drops

  • Drops represent approximately 30% of the total project costs. Costs can be controlled by doing drops to only the households that are subscribing to the service.
  • You can ask for cost estimates on 100% service drops and pre-subscriber service drops to understand the difference in costs and decide if you can afford 100% drops. This will save high startup costs for those who decide to subscribe after initial deployment.
  • To determine a sense of potential growth, go to your assessors for a count of buildable lots as a starting point.
  • Pre-subscribed customers – get this from your fiber campaign results. MBI is suggesting towns use 60%
  • Leverett is a useful sample even though the demographics are different. They have an 85% take rate.
  • An active sales force on the ground is critical to getting the take rates up.
  • DSL service is poor and getting worse. People will be scrambling for alternatives. You can no longer get on a DSL waiting list. Once a house is sold and the port is closed, it will no longer be reactivated. As DSL phases out, we should see a significant take rate for fiber.
  • Consider using an 80% rate because of these factors.
  • Cell service in people’s homes can be received through your homes Wi-Fi network which many people don’t realize.
  • Leverett was at 75% 6 months before their network was lit.
  • Fewer than 50% of Leverett’s customers have taken phone service as well. Where cell reception is available, younger customers just aren’t getting landlines anymore. Older customers are concerned about the short battery life of the ONT’s. In some areas, a Verizon line will be there even after the lights go out. However, Verizon has not kept up with maintenance in all areas so this isn’t always the case.

5.4 Network Services

  • Towns can choose what best suits their needs. These can be changed later, and WiredWest will be coming up with plans for what services and price tiers will be available on a regional network.
  • Some towns selected Data and Voice and asked for a price of service if Video was included. TV may be prohibitively expensive and increasingly available via the internet, so a separate service may not be necessary.
  • Speed Tiers – simply check off the level of service your town is interested in.
  • From a construction point of view, the speed tiers don’t matter. The electronics on either end of the fiber determine these levels.

5.5 Network Availability and Redundancy

  • Connections to the Middle Mile Network
    • if you choose 1, you have a single point of failure.
    • If you choose two, you have to pay for both connections.
    • $1,500 per gig coming into your town. Leverett is up to 2 gigs now.
    • This becomes an operational cost of your network.
  • Backup Power for the Hut
    • Many of our CAI’s already have backup power.
    • Cummington is planning to put their hut behind their firehouse with a connection to it. This allows access to the hut for anyone who needs to service it without going through the building to get to it with the benefit of having backup power from the building.
    • Prefabricated Huts
      • Well laid out
      • Fiberglass
      • Room for three racks (each rack can have 1,500 connections)
      • Bigger than what we need in many cases
      • Cost ~ $65,000 each (does not include HVAC or backup power
      • Concrete pads needs to be poured for them to be installed on
      • Made by numerous vendors
      • Come in various sizes
      • Should be located in protected areas (think car accidents)
      • Town equipment should be separated from Axia’s equipment so you have control of it. Axia will charge you if you put your equipment in their space.
    • Backup Power for Customer Equipment
      • ONT’s have batteries.
      • ONT’s in the house need to be hooked up to power. Most ONT’s have a 24 hour battery life built into it for emergencies.
      • ONT life can be extended with the purchase of additional backup power units
      • ONT’s should be internal to the premises.
      • External ONT’s are more expensive. However, the argument for putting them outside is that whoever has to service them doesn’t have to go inside a home to do it.
      • External ONT’s are subjected to weather factors
      • MBI’s preference is to put them outside the house.
      • Leverett chose to use external ONT’s with 8 hour life batteries which allow for 1 hour of talk time.
      • Concord MA used internal Calix ONT’s if anyone wants to reach out to their MLP for input
      • Batteries for eExternal ONT’s are located inside the homes

5.6 Unique / Shared Huts Between Towns

  • Goshen wanted a unique hut that could be shared on a regional basis
  • Having a unique hut gives you a greater ability to do home runs to your premises because you have lower fiber counts going shorter distances.

5.7 Hut / Base Station Location

  • Town choice

5.8 Backhaul

  • Only applies to wireless

5.9 Make Ready, Pole Licensing, Base Station Siting

  • Boxes checked off are determined by how you completed the section earlier in the form
  • Keep in mind that there are two pole surveys
    • MBI pays for one ahead of time that is necessary for the make ready application
    • Towns then have to pay utility companies to go out and do their own surveys which determines which poles need work

5.10 Other Uses for Network

  • Additional strands for emergency communications
This is where you get to extoll the virtues of regionalization, especially with WiredWest. It will make life easier for towns to maintain and operate networks and result in lower subscriber costs. It’s good if MBI heres this message from many towns.

The directions ask towns to “include any relevant information and attachments relating to plans or considerations the Town has to work with a group towns in the area for a last mile solution, or participation in a regional consortium under MBI criteria.”  A town can have plans to work with a group of towns and should state that it plans to do so through an MLP Coop, in accordance with the borrowing authority and debt exclusion votes, and that WiredWest is that coop. This is an appropriate place to elaborate on the support for a regional solution in your town and for WiredWest, e.g., through presubscriptions.

Inter-governmental agreements are contracts between two municipalities where one municipality provides services to another. These will be needed to address edge issues. There is a whole section of law that covers this.

WiredWest is talking to potential Network Operators. If you plan to be part of WiredWest’s regional network, then WiredWest will not be the Network Operator, but will choose one for the region.

This is where the rub is. There is a separate sustainability worksheet. There are some estimated numbers to use based on Leverett’s model, David Kulp’s model, or MBI recommendations. Most towns, especially smaller ones, will find that the resulting subscriber cost needed to sustain the network will be too high. This is where regionalization comes in. WiredWest will be coming out with numbers based on conversations with potential vendors that will help. Check the site later for those numbers, perhaps available in November, 2016.

Here is a sample Readiness Submission Form from Rowe. It has been accepted by the MBI professional staff.