Middle-mile Installation Delay Alters Timeline

The delay means we are pushing back on our estimated timing by a few months but it in no way jeopardizes the project.

– Stephen Cullen, chair of the Princeton Broadband Committee

Citing unforeseen delays in delivering “middle mile” access into Princeton from Western Massachusetts and a vendor’s decision to decline the design contract, the Princeton Broadband Committee is working to revise its timetable to install a proposed town-wide high-speed network.

“The delay means we are pushing back on our estimated timing by a few months but it in no way jeopardizes the project,” said Stephen Cullen, chair of the Princeton Broadband Committee.

It was announced last week that the state and federally funded Massachusetts Broadband Institute’s $71.6 million, 1,200-mile network has fallen behind schedule as the project moves eastward. A new schedule released last week by MBI states that a completion date for “lighting up” the middle-mile fiber network in Princeton is now slated for December. The original expected completion date was July 1.

“Delays are not unusual in aggressive telecommunications installation projects, especially in rural areas such as those in the western part of the state,” Cullen explained. “We believe MBI remains strongly committed to its goal of bringing affordable high-speed Internet to the state’s underserved communities. It looks like a few months delay in getting the access we need to bring fiber to every home but there is not much we can do on this end to speed things along. We’ll just have to wait this out.”

Another issue related to the project was the decision of G4S Technology to decline the task of conducting the network design and cost estimates. Voters at the May 14 Town Meeting approved an article to allocate $10,000 for design services and town officials signed a contract with G4S on June 17. Town Administrator John Lebeaux received a letter last week from G4S announcing their decision to decline the project and will not sign the contract.

G4S Technology’s counsel was concerned that its ability to bid on a future construction project would be jeopardized from a legal perspective should it provide the network design and cost estimates. Princeton Town Counsel did not share that opinion, but G4S Technology decided to take the most conservative approach as it is very interested in any future construction project.

“Finding another company to complete the design for the amount of money approved by town meeting is our immediate objective, and we do not anticipate a problem given the availability of qualified vendors.” Cullen said. “Our original timeline was for the design to be completed the end of this summer but an early fall date is more realistic. As a result of the delay, the committee is currently discussing a new date later this year for a special town meeting to approve funding the project.”

Committee member John Kowaleski and other volunteers are making significant progress in mapping the existing utility infrastructure, including GPS readings and photographs of each of the estimated 3000 utility poles in Princeton. Cullen explained that taking on this task internally saves the town an estimated $50,000 from the cost to complete a network design.

 

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