Princeton Board Takes Steps Toward Setting Up Broadband

From Worcester Telegram, by Joshua Lyford

The Board of Selectmen took the necessary steps Monday night to establish a new Municipal Lighting Plant, which will serve as the legal managing entity for the town’s proposed broadband network. Voters authorized its creation at this year’s annual town meeting.

The vote at the annual town meeting also appropriated $17,000 to cover prep work. The MLP will serve as a telecommunications hub for town high-speed Internet and a yes vote to each was necessary in bringing high-speed Internet to Princeton.

The board voted on a number of broadband-related issues…

Read the rest of article at Telegram.com >

We Approved the MLP. So What’s Next?

What’s an MLP? 

Massachusetts law provides the opportunity for residents to form a Municipal Light Plants (MLP) to negotiate and manage residential telecommunications services, including construction of a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network and fiscal management when operational. The law was originally established to keep the cost of gas and electricity affordable for citizens, but grew in scope with the emergence of cable television companies. An MLP is an independent entity separate from all town government yet it may indeed interact with several other municipal offices. Like all other bodies and committees, the MLP is subject to open meeting laws and encourages residents to become involved in its discussions and decision-making process.

The MLP will be separate from but initially governed by the Princeton Board of Selectmen. The first order of business is to give the MLP a name and appoint a manager who will lead and direct the new entity. Once MLP leadership is established it is expected that a charter and governing bylaws will be drafted.

What Happens Next? 

Establishing an MLP creates a catalyst that puts many things into motion. As a legal entity, the Princeton MLP now meets the eligibility requirements of many potential sources for project funding, including the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Massachusetts Broadband Initiative. Armed with an MLP, Princeton can now engage the services of Wired West, a consortium representing many other municipal networks in Massachusetts and benefit from its vital resources, which includes having a voice on Beacon Hill and a pipeline to potential funding sources.

With a name and manager, the immediate goal of the new MLP is to enter into negotiations with any private parties interested in funding the costs to build the FTTH network. To date, there is one such proposal in the final stages of preparation, which saves Princeton taxpayers between $3 and $5 million for a controlled installation. The current proposal also includes the stipulation that the vendor maintains the fiber network. The MLP, adhering to state procurement laws and bidding procedures, will engage the services of an Internet Service Provider (ISP) who will bill subscribers monthly for fees to cover the cost of building the network, maintenance, equipment depreciation, Internet connectivity, and other user costs. Eventually – perhaps within 15 years – the Princeton MLP will assume all ownership of the network and will be responsible for its financial and operational management.

Once the MLP approves the proposal, network installation would be completed in 12-15 months. Under this “best case” scenario, Princeton’s high-speed fiber optic network could be operational by the fall of 2015. Under the watchful management of an MLP, vendor delays can be managed far more skillfully than if they occurred during an unsupervised installation project.

Cutting the Cord 

Harvard Law professor and author Susan Crawford writes in her book Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly in the Gilded Age: “Truly high-speed wired internet access is as basic to innovation, economic growth, social communication and the country’s competitiveness as electricity was a century ago, but a limited number of Americans have access to it, many can’t afford it, and the country has handed control of it over to Comcast and a few other companies.”

By voting for an MLP Princeton has made the bold decision not be held captive by the cable companies and incumbent carriers. We thank all who supported us at town meeting and for the ongoing words of encouragement to keep the momentum headed in the right direction.

Download this update as a PDF

91.4% Majority Approve Article 4!

At the Annual Town Meeting on May 13, Article 4 passed with a decisive 91.4% majority! (Article 5 also passed by clear verbal majority.) Thanks to everyone who got involved and voted!  Your presence was definitely felt in that overcrowded meeting room.

It’s time to roll up our sleeves and continue on to the next stage of our shared goal of bringing broadband internet to Princeton.

A Critical Week for Princeton Broadband

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Annual Town Meeting

Where and When Is It? 

Tuesday, May 13, 7pm at Thomas Prince School.

Why is it important to broadband?

There are two broadband motions that will be voted on at the meeting, the passage of which is essential for bringing high-speed internet to our town. In fact, if 66% of the town doesn’t vote to approve Article 4, then all broadband progress is legally bound to be suspended — at least until 2016! Read about the details of the motions here.

Also we recommend that you read “Three Must-Dos in May“.

My schedule is busy on Tuesday. What if I don’t have time to stay for the entire town meeting? 

One bit of good news for people with a busy schedule — the broadband motions are articles 4 & 5, meaning that they will be voted upon near the start of the 7pm meeting (unlike last year when they were over 2 hours into it). Therefore, if you can’t stay for the whole town meeting, come at the start, vote YES on motions 4 & 5 and then you can leave early.

What happens next if the vote is approved?

The Board of Selectmen will be free to consider the Maxtrix/Millennium proposal.

Race for Selectman: What Does It Mean for Broadband?

Next Monday’s election for Selectman could have a critical impact on the chances of bringing highspeed broadband to the town of Princeton. Given that, make sure you know exactly where both candidates stand on the broadband issue. We encourage you to check out the Facebook Page of each candidate by clicking their respective images below. While there, consider posting questions to both candidates on their page, asking them about their position on broadband and its priority to them and the town.

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Stan Moss

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Bruce Rollins

 

 

Annual Town Meeting: Just the Facts

urlThe Princeton Broadband Committee reminds voters to attend town meeting next Tuesday, May 13 at 7pm at Thomas Prince School. Let your voice be heard! There are two broadband related motions:

  • Article 4 is a second vote taken by paper ballot to establish a telecommunications MLP, a public entity that is required to operate a local broadband network. The first vote successfully passed at last year’s town meeting by the required margin of 2/3. Failure to pass this article will eliminate the opportunity to again vote for the purpose of establishing an MLP for two years.
  • Article 5 seeks to appropriate $17,000 to obtain technical and legal expertise to represent the town’s interest in any negotiations to build a network. These funds are specifically requested to explore and better understand any proposal from the private sector to build a network in town.

Note: The Advisory Board approves passing both these articles.

Fact 1: The town is not heading toward building a network completely funded by taxpayers.

Fact 2: The town currently has a proposal from a private firm to build a network under a public/private partnership, which will be paid for by subscribers to the service (Internet and telephone options) over a period of years. The town would own the network after that period. An MLP must exist for the town to consider this proposal.

Fact 3: The Princeton Broadband Committee is currently in the process of requesting funding assistance from the Commonwealth and/or the federal government to build a municipal network.

For a more extended discussion on the implications of the annual town meeting votes, check out Three Must-Dos in May »

 

 

Want Broadband in Princeton? Three Must-Dos in May

The vast majority of Princeton residents want…no, need…broadband for their daily lives. But if 66% of the town doesn’t vote to approve a seemingly minor, moneyless motion at the Annual Town Meeting on May 13, then all broadband progress is legally bound to be suspended — at least until 2016! Complacency is our only true enemy.

It’s all so bittersweet for us Princeton residents. On the one hand, we are all invited to an open house at the Princeton Library this week so people can experience the wonders of a high-speed fiber connection to the internet. On the other hand, we all have to return to our homes after that event, all of which are on the wrong side of the tracks, digitally speaking.  cimg7544d

If you are sick and tired of living on the wrong side of the tracks and want actual change, here are three must-do activities that you need to undertake this May.

1. Read about the “game changing” Matrix/Millennium proposal.

The big “game changing” news of 2014 is that Princeton has received a proposal from Matrix/Millennium that would construct a Fiber to the Home (FTTH) network under a public/private partnership. However, instead of the network construction being funded fully out of taxes, under this proposal, the network would be paid for by subscribers over a period of years. This proposal can truly be a win/win situation for Princeton residents — the opportunity for high-speed internet without paying for the whole thing ourselves. Read more details here or check out The Landmark article Another option for high speed internet.

However, as game changing as this proposal may be, it is fully contingent on the upcoming broadband votes at the Annual Town Meeting.

2. Attend the Annual Town Meeting on Tuesday, May 13 and vote YES on the two broadband motions.

If you are serious about wanting broadband in town, you absolutely must attend this event (May 13, 7pm at Thomas Prince School) . Even if you don’t think about politics much. Even if you don’t normally get involved in town affairs. Even if you have a busy week already. The regulars, those who never miss annual town meetings, may or may not approve these motions. That’s why we need the full town represented in the vote and not let our future be dictated by a small minority of residents.

The two motions that we will be voting on seem like minor issues. But if the first is not approved by 66% of the town, the results would be catastrophic.

Motion #1: A vote to establish a Telecommunications MLP (Municipal Light Plant). According to Mass state law, we can’t go forward with any broadband solution unless we have a legal telecommunications entity established for the town. A Telecommunications MLP is minimal or no cost to us, but it is one of those legal “checkmarks” that must be checked off our list to continue. (Check out The Landmark article on the motion.)

Here’s the tricky thing about this vote. Mass law requires the town residents vote twice to establish an MLP. The first vote successfully passed at the 2013 town meeting. So, we have to vote one more time this year. Sounds like all standard stuff, right? Here’s the catch:

  • The vote must be approved by 66% of the town residents, not a simple majority. That’s why your attendance at the town meeting is so essential. It doesn’t take many NO voters to take down a 2/3rds vote.
  • If the second vote fails, we can’t vote on the motion again for another 2 years.

See the dire implications? The vast majority of Princeton residents want…no, need…broadband for their daily lives. But if 66% of the town doesn’t vote to approve a seemingly, minor moneyless motion at the Annual Town Meeting on May 13, then all broadband progress is legally bound to be suspended — at least until 2016! Complacency is our only true enemy. Come hell or high water, be there on May 13! 

Motion #2: Request for $17,000 for technical and legal expertise to represent the town’s interest in any negotiations to build a network. To be clear, this is not a request to fund building a network. Instead, this is a smaller fund to ensure that any sort of private/public plan that emerges is in the best interest of the town.

3. Tell your friends and neighbors. 

Make sure you spread the news about the Matrix/Millennium proposal and upcoming town votes with your friends, neighbors, and fellow parents at little league practices/games. What’s more, we encourage you to Like us on Facebook and share our posts with your Facebook friends. Let’s work together to ensure that the full town of Princeton is represented at the Annual Town Meeting this year.

4. Check out the fiber broadband connection at Princeton Library.

If the first three are required actions for every Princeton resident, the fourth to-do is more of an option. We invite you to check out the newly connection fiber internet at Princeton Library. If the Matrix/Millennium proposal is approved, this is exactly the same type of FTTH connection that you will be able to enjoy.

Questions? 

If you have any questions, get in touch.