Notes From the Underserved

Towns Express Overwhelming Support for WiredWest and WG&E at MBI PP Open Meeting

On February, 16, 2017 the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) held an open meeting to hear from MBI town designees and local Select board members about their thoughts regarding the results of the Private Provider RFP. The meeting took place at the Worthington, Massachusetts Town Hall.

Select board members and designees wishing to speak were asked to RSVP to MBI Deputy Director Edmund Donnelly, as each speaker was limited to 3 minutes.

Over almost a 2 hour period, one town after another told the MBI they wanted 3 things:

  1. Let the towns work with Westfield Gas & Electric to build their networks
  2. Release to each town their full allocation of the $40 million appropriated for the last mile build for both construction and professional services
  3. Allow the towns to work regionally with WiredWest if they choose.

Part 2

 

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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, including financial models and clarifications about regulation by DPU, etc.
  • Many cost saving ideas and efficiencies such as consolidating legal and account costs and ring architecture for shared backhaul have come from WiredWest.
  • WG+E is offering much lower ISP and maintenance costs as a result of WiredWest’s negotiating.
  • WiredWest discovered and championed the use of MLP’s for running broadband networks. WW has continued to clarify legal and accounting matters relating to the use of MLP’s. Most recently regarding DLS’s guidance on broadband accounting, which is misleading. We are working with a qualified auditor to produce better guidance.

So, where would we be without WiredWest? It’s not a rhetorical questions. Towns now have […]

WiredWest Broadband Solution Workshop – January 28, 2017

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.

Berkshire towns welcome change in Massachusetts Broadband Institute policy

Reprinted from the Berkshire Eagle
By Larry Parnass, lparnass@berkshireeagle.com

“Productive.” “Optimistic.”

After a year in the deep freeze, relations between state officials and broadband activists in Western Massachusetts appear to be thawing.

Leaders of WiredWest used the words above to describe their meeting last week with Carolyn Kirk, the state’s deputy secretary of housing and economic development.

Their session in Northampton came 15 months after a Massachusetts Broadband Institute policy reversal halted earlier collaboration. The gulf opened after a former MBI executive director urged town leaders not to enter into a regional broadband network agreement with WiredWest, citing financial issues.

Since then, tension has characterized relations between WiredWest loyalists and the state.

Last week’s summit is believed to be the first since talks broke down in early 2016 — a crisis that led Gov. Charlie Baker to impose a “pause” in planning for last-mile broadband coverage in unserved communities.

Jim Drawe of Cummington, chairman of WiredWest’s executive committee, praised the March 9 meeting with Kirk and other state officials.

“It was very refreshing to work with her,” Drawe said of Kirk, calling the former Gloucester mayor “decisive” and supportive.

“We left the meeting with the clear and common goal to move forward as soon as possible,” Drawe said.

Kirk said Wednesday she accepted an invitation from Marilyn Wilson, a Rowe Select Board member and former WiredWest delegate, to meet.

“I felt like the time was right to have a roll-up-your sleeves, collaborative discussion with those in the room,” Kirk said. “The input I received was very helpful.”

Steve Nelson of Washington, a former WiredWest leader who is now his town’s delegate to the group, said the session with Kirk was significant.

“It’s more than a courtesy […]

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WiredWest: our cooperative solution for broadband internet in western Massachusetts

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Meeting Information

WiredWest Executive Committee Meeting

July 24 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

WiredWest Board of Directors Meeting

August 21 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

WiredWest Board of Directors Meeting

September 18 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

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