Work proceeds on Broadband

News from the Berkshire Eagle February, 2017:

Mount Washington

STATUS: The town is proceeding on schedule to build a fiber-to-the-home municipally owned network. Late in 2016, NextGen Telecom Services Group began to put underground wires in conduits for the network. The company will finish that work in the spring. National Grid and Verizon have given the town bills for expected makeready work on poles. Verizon expects to finish that work in May. CURRENT INTERNET OPTIONS: Satellite (Hughes Net or Exede), fixed wireless ( WiSpring)CONSTRUCTION ALLOCATION: $230,000POPULATION: 167 WHAT BORROWING APPROVED, IF ANY:

Up to $450,000

QUOTE: “My only goal was to keep the budget down and not spend unnecessarily,” said Gail Garrett, selectwoman and town clerk.

CLOSER LOOK: Mount Washington is building a broadband network to call its own — and not a moment too soon.

“We have no bodies. I can’t emphasize that enough,” said Garrett. “Realtors are telling me that if they tell somebody they don’t have high-speed internet in a home, they’re not buying it.”

NextGen has up to three months to complete the system after National Grid and Verizon finish make-ready on the poles to accommodate the network. The town will manage the network through the Select Board. The town will utilize MBI construction grant funding and its own borrowing — up to $450,000 — to pay for the network, which will only extend toward those homes that have opted into the network, although the network could be expanded to accommodate new users in the future. Garrett anticipates the town will need to borrow only about $270,000.

Garrett set the monthly price for both internet and phone service — $119.95, based on the funds needed to maintain the system. Garrett said she hopes the network will be up and running in May.

“It was years and years of dial-up and this and that,” she said.

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