Tuesday, November 10
LETS TALK BROADBAND
In the interest of full disclosure I'll state upfront that I support the town contracting Wired West to build and run our network as a cooperative. WW carried the ball from inception to now and a lot of people invested time, travel and treasure to develop this co-op. Like me, many people are wondering why the BoS is even entertaining other companies. We thought when we sent our $49.00 deposit to Wired West it was because WW was the provider of choice. So many were shocked to find that we were exploring private for profit companies to build our network.
Despite the fact that we were all led to believe that we were voting on a bond issue to set up the WW co-op the BoS set up an ad hoc committee to interview all candidates who express interest.
The broadband committee is vetting two private for profit companies and WW to present to the BoS for their approval. Once presented the BoS will sign a three million dollar plus contract with whosoever they choose. Over the next few days, weeks or however long it takes we will be discussing the various options for our broadband network.
One of the private for profit companies being vetted is Matrix Design Group. Matrix is a well known company and has a lot of experience in this and other fields. They are certainly qualified to do the project. However, we would never receive any of the revenues and we would be paying exorbitant subscriber fees.
The cost for a standard Internet connection of up to 50 Mbps would be $95 per month. The cost for a standard Internet connection plus a VoIP line would be $115 per month. A second VoIP line could be purchased for an additional $20 per month.
Subscribers at the time of installation may opt for a Calix WiFi for an additional equipment charge of $5 per month. Additional charges such as taxes and MLP fees may also apply. This is a far cry from what we would pay for Wired West.
Aside from the inflated cost Matrix wants the town to guarantee there will be 470 customers. To ensure this Matrix will have a three month pre-subscription period in which more than half of the town will have to sign up for a two year contract and deposit $500.00. If someone doesn't want a two year contract then the installation will be $1,500.00. If they can't get 470 Egremont residents to sign up and put down a deposit Matrix will shut the project down. If you think it was hard to get people to put a $49.00 deposit for Wired West what do you think the chances are of 470 signing up for this? If the BoS chooses this option it will probably delay the build out at least six months.
Another private for profit company being considered is Fiber Connect. Fiber connect is being considered because they are offering a unique service, buried cable. Fiber connect is asking the town to loan them the money to do the build out and they will allow us to hold a lien on their company until the loan is paid off. One drawback to this option is that by using a private company to build the network we loose our portion of 19 million of state funding.
I took the liberty of checking out Fiber connect. There wasn't much information using the usual internet searches so I went to the state records. According to the State of Massachusetts Fiber Connect was incorporated 12/12/2013 and has only 1 employee, Adam Chait who is the named manager. The listed address is 12 Buckingham Lane Monterey Ma 01245 which is a residence owned by Peter Chait, Adam's father I assume. There is a PO Box listed 764 also in Monterey. Are we seriously considering a one man company to build and run our $3,000,000.00 network?
Now lets look at the cost if we choose Fiber Connect. First we have a $500.00 installation charge, then a $99.99 or $149.99 monthly subscriber charge depending on which package you choose. Bear in mind that this is for internet only and before taxes and other fees. VoIP was not even an option according to Adam.
Wired west, unlike the private for profit companies, is a cooperative of many towns who have decided to join together and fill a common need that private for profit companies have refused to address. Now that these state funds are available you have private companies tripping over each other trying to snatch up the money to bolster their company's profits.
Wired West will keep our subscriber rates as low as possible, starting at $49.00 per month for unlimited internet service. If you have signed up and paid your $49.00 deposit the installation is included. Rather than going into a companies profit margin your subscriber fees will go back into a co-op that you are a shareholder in. To me it's a no brainer, Wired West will provide better service at a lower price and in the end may actually create a revenue stream for the participating towns.
We need to tell our elected officials what we want since we will pay for any choice they make. I've talked to a lot of people and the majority of them not only want Wired West but thought that they voted for Wired West. Tell your selectmen to choose Wired West.