Internet Make-Ready Funding is Approved

Here’s a press release put out by the Princeton MLP this week:

$1 million for Internet make-ready gets approval

-Total of $1.2 million now allocated to prepare for town-wide fiber optic installation –

July 8, 2015, Princeton, MA – The Princeton Board of Selectman voted July 7 to move forward with borrowing the $1 million remaining on the $1.2 million approved by town meeting voters for make-ready activities necessary for installing a town-wide high-speed fiber optic Internet network. The vote was 3 to 0 with added approval from members of the Advisory Board in attendance.

The $1.2 million total represents an estimate prepared by the Princeton Broadband Committee to cover work by Verizon and project consultants for engineering studies, pole assessments and upgrades, installing fiber optic wire hangers, police details and the construction of telecommunications huts. The work will involve examining and preparing each of Princeton’s nearly 2700 poles on public ways and additional poles on residential properties that are currently co-owned by Verizon and the town light department.

The board also approved a Request for Information, which was prepared by the Broadband Committee and set for distribution to potential vendors next week.

According to Stan Moss, chair, Princeton Broadband MLP, “The unanimous vote by the board to borrow the full amount is a major step forward in bringing high-speed fiber optic Internet into every Princeton home. There are some procedural steps to process through – bond counsel approval and the loan auction by our financial advisor – before we will have the funds in hand. Consensus among board members is that things are finally moving along but there is still much to do.”

Board Gives Approval to Borrow Internet Make-Ready Funding

While there is a heck of a lot of work being done behind the scenes by the Princeton Broadband MLP and others, many of us on the outside have felt frustrated by the seemingly lack of tangible measures of progress so far in 2015. However, here’s some good news on an essential step in this process – getting the make-ready work off the ground.  The following is a press release from the Princeton Broadband MLP.   


Board Gives Approval to Borrow Internet Make-Ready Funding

High-speed Internet access gets significant boost with $200K for engineering study

June 22, 2015, Princeton, MA – The Princeton Advisory Board voted 5-0 June 22 recommending that the Board of Selectmen proceed with borrowing $200,000 to begin make-ready activities necessary to installing a town-wide high-speed fiber optic Internet network. While voters approved borrowing $1.2 million to cover all estimated pre-construction activities, town officials believe incremental spending is the best way to move forward until a vendor is chosen to install the network.

The funds, when made available in mid-July, will be used to cover work by Verizon and project consultants for engineering studies and pole assessments. The work includes examining each of Princeton’s nearly 2700 poles on public ways and additional poles on residential properties that are currently co-owned by Verizon and PMLP. The inspection team will agree if an individual pole needs replacement or upgrading, determine the cost for the work on each pole, and whether the Light Department or Verizon will perform the work.

According to Stan Moss, chair, Princeton Broadband Municipal Light Plant (PBMLP), “Make ready work has begun, which is the first major step in reaching our goal of bringing high-speed Internet access into every Princeton home. As work continues toward vendor selection, PBMLP feels the project is back on track and now moving forward as quickly as possible. If all the pieces associated with this project fall into place, we are still looking at a completion date of late next year.”

Passing the Broadband Torch to the Princeton Broadband MLP

handsWith the town vote and establishment of the Princeton Broadband MLP to spearhead contract negotiations and make ultimate decisions for bringing high speed internet to our town, the Princeton broadband committee essentially fulfilled its raison d’être (reason for being) and, consequently, was dissolved this past month. In other words, we are passing the “broadband torch” to the Princeton Broadband MLP to see this thing through to a successful end for the town.

Since princetonbroadband.com and its associated Facebook page was originated and maintained by those of us on the broadband committee during its tenure, the dissolution of the committee also signifies a shift in the purpose and nature of this site. Instead of serving as the official source for broadband news in Princeton, princetonbroadband.com is now what could best be described as the unofficial source. Our plans are to continue to update the town residents on all things broadband here, but we do so now from an unofficial, independent perspective. As important, we also want to continue to provide an ongoing forum for discussions and commentary amongst the Princeton community – both on this site and on our Facebook page.

For official Princeton Broadband MLP news, the best online source is the Town of Princeton web site. (But note that we will pass along MLP info here as we see things posted.)

Matrix, Princeton End Talks Over Network Control Issues

The Princeton Broadband MLP issued a press release tonight discussing the official end of talks with Matrix. (Click here to read). On the surface, that sounds like disappointing news for we Princetonites, desperate for true high speed internet. But after the molasses-like pace that characterized the talks with Matrix for months and months now and which prevented Princeton from being able to begin the make-ready repairs, this news actually looks like it could be a positive step in the right direction. There appear to be other potentially interested vendors to fill the void left by Matrix. I am cautiously optimistic that one of these may very well, in the end, be a much better match for us. We are continuing to monitor any and all developments here on princetonbroadband.com and will keep you updated as we learn of them.

Read official Princeton Broadband MLP press release »

MDG proposal negotiations continue to resolve issues

The Princeton Broadband MLP has provided a status update on the Town of Princeton web site:

A rumor has surfaced that PBMLP and Matrix Design Group (MDG) have not yet reached an agreement on the proposal to install a high-speed fiber optic network in Princeton. While the rumor is true, residents can rest assured that negotiations have not failed and, in fact, have picked up in intensity and momentum in recent days…

Read the full article on town.princeton.ma.us »

 

Baker-Polito Administration Announces State Support for High-Speed Internet Expansion in Western Massachusetts

The following is a reprint of a recent press release from the Governor’s office:

February 18, 2015

Baker-Polito Administration Announces State Support for High-Speed Internet Expansion in Western Massachusetts

State will Partner and Invest with Towns to Address the ‘Last Mile’ Challenge, Helping Unserved Residents and Businesses Compete in the Digital Global Economy

BOSTON – Today, Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito announced their commitment to broadband expansion initiatives designed to narrow existing gaps in high-speed Internet access for residents and businesses in Western Massachusetts.

The Baker-Polito Administration will commit up to $50 million in existing capital funding to the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) for broadband expansion initiatives. These state funds will be used to catalyze significant additional municipal and private investment, and will support innovative, sustainable, locally-led projects.

“Providing high-speed broadband access to all cities and towns is not only a matter of basic fairness, but it is an essential part of building stronger communities and a stronger economy,” said Governor Baker. “It’s time that we connect cities and towns throughout Massachusetts to the high-speed broadband service that is critical in today’s digital world.”

“This administration is committed to empowering residents and unleashing entrepreneurial activity throughout the Commonwealth,” said Lieutenant Governor Polito. “With this funding, we are one step closer towards closing the digital divide that continues to hinder residents and businesses in Western Massachusetts.”

The announcement came after a joint meeting of the Executive Committee of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative Board of Directors and the MBI Board of Directors. The MBI, a division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, is the state entity designated to partner with municipalities, residents, and providers to support development of these broadband expansion solutions.

“Despite the current budget deficit, the Baker-Polito Administration remains committed to investing in our regional economies, and creating partnerships that empower communities to be great,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. “I look forward to working with the Broadband Institute to extend broadband service to additional areas of Massachusetts.”

“I applaud Governor Baker’s decision to release these funds,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg. “It is another clear signal that, even though we have a new Administration, we are still fully committed to creating long promised access to high speed internet for the businesses, students, and residents of our region.” 

 “This is the beginning of the end of the digital divide in western Massachusetts,” said State Senator Benjamin B. Downing. “Connecting all of our residents will create jobs and help the region’s economy thrive.”

 “I am grateful for Governor Baker’s commitment to our continued progress in bringing broadband service to our undeserved residents and businesses in western Massachusetts,” said Representative Stephen Kulik. “Our rural communities must have high-speed broadband in order to function in the modern world and to compete in today’s economy.  The release of this $50 million in state funds, and the partnership with local governments, moves us significantly closer to building the network and finishing the job.”

Currently, 45 Western Massachusetts towns lack any residential cable or broadband access, relying upon DSL or dial-up technologies. Further, many towns have existing cable franchise agreements which provide high-speed Internet access to a part of town, but do not serve the entire community. Planning, evaluation and program development is underway for several key projects which will benefit from state investment, including:

  • Construction of a regional fiber-to-the-home network in interested towns currently lacking any residential broadband;
  • Investment support for the town of Leverett, which is leveraging the MassBroadband 123 network and municipal investment to construct their own fiber to the home network; and
  • A program using state investment to foster public-private partnerships which will expand residential broadband access in communities with existing cable franchise agreements that do not serve the entire community, primarily due to low population density.

“We thank the Baker-Polito Administration for their support of our efforts to deliver high-speed broadband connections to the households and businesses in unserved areas of Massachusetts,” said Eric Nakajima, Director of the MBI at MassTech. “This funding will help us make the construction of these ‘Last Mile’ networks a reality.”

Using an initial $40 million state capital investment and a $45.2 million federal stimulus grant, the MBI built and operates MassBroadband 123, a 1,200 mile fiber backbone for Western and Central Massachusetts. MassBroadband 123 also provides direct connectivity to 1,100 community anchor institutions, such as schools, libraries, town halls, and public safety facilities. MassBroadband 123 provides the needed platform for future broadband expansion and has reduced the cost curve for future expansion directly to residents and businesses. Many broadband expansion projects supported with state investment will leverage MassBroadband 123, and all programs and initiatives receiving state investment will need to demonstrate strong local support, often including municipal investment.

About the Massachusetts Broadband Institute at MassTech

A division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the Massachusetts Broadband Institute at MassTech (MBI) is working to extend high-speed Internet access to homes, businesses, schools, libraries, medical facilities, government offices, and other public places across the Commonwealth, allowing for greater participation in the global economy and civic society. The MBI also promotes broadband usage and adoption by residents and small businesses. Learn more at http://broadband.masstech.org.

Work Begins on Legal, Regulatory Issues

Written by Phillip O’Brien 

The Princeton MLP took important steps last month to move the broadband project forward by addressing several key legal and regulatory issues. These matters require time-consuming meetings and discussions with key participants, including MBI, Verizon, bond counsel, network consultants and Matrix Design Group. Here is the latest:

  • In early January we learned from bond council that borrowing funds to begin the make-ready work is contingent upon certain requirements such as pole attachment rights and operational control. We have addressed these issues through written communications with Matrix Design Group and are working toward a solution that we expect to have in hand this month. Settling these issues means we can also move forward with Matrix contract negotiations while continuing to conclude make-ready work.
  • We met with representatives from MBI on two occasions. As of this writing, no funds have been released from the state for broadband access purposes but MBI does assure us we will receive some funding when our network is operational. How much depends on several issues, including installation specifics and operational control. These issues are being addressing through our respective legal counsels.
  • We also learned that we were not selected by the FCC for federal broadband funding in their latest round of grant applications. This decision will not deter our ongoing efforts to identify and pursue financial assistance from state and federal resources. 

We will update you as developments occur. And believe me, we are as impatient and excited as you are to get broadband internet to Princeton!