Matrix/Millennium project could reduce taxpayers burden of $4-5 million
Princeton has received a proposal from Matrix/Millennium for constructing 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.
The Princeton Broadband Committee received some surprising news at its Feb 12 meeting when a representative from telecommunications firm Matrix Design Group outlined a preliminary proposal from his company to fund a fiber-to-the-home project for those residents choosing to purchase high-speed fiber optic connectivity. The proposal, if accepted by the board of selectmen, would save taxpayers between $4 and $5.3 million, easing the concerns of those residents who say they should not have to pay for services they do not use.
Joining Matrix in the proposal is its project management partner Millennium Communications Group, Inc. of East Hanover, NJ. The proposal includes choosing one of two options: an active Ethernet network with a $5.3 million price tag or a $4million cost estimate for a gigabit passive optical network (GPON). Matrix/Millennium currently favors the less costly GPON network for the Princeton project. A not too technical explanation of GPON vs. active Ethernet can be found at http://connectedplanetonline.com/commentary/telcos-ethernet-gpon-090910/.
The committee thanked Matrix/Millennium representative Chris Lynch for his generous proposal, which significantly lessens the amount taxpayers will be asked to pay over a 20-year period. The proposal does not exempt the town from assuming some of the costs, including environmental permitting and studies, application fees and “make-ready” costs that may involve the services of the Princeton Municipal Light Department and Verizon that share responsibilities for existing telephone poles. Estimates of those costs, which will need to be approved by town voters, are yet to be determined.
Some specifics of the tentative proposal include the stipulation that homeowners who want the network must pay a $200 installation fee during a set enrollment period. Those requesting installation after that period would be charged $1200 for the service. Each subscriber will be charged a $25 per month “construction fee” in addition to a proposed menu that includes high-speed Internet (30-50 megabits), voice over Internet (VOIP) telephone service and a competitive local channel television offering. While customers will have the option to chose services on an a la carte basis, estimated monthly costs for the three bundled services are $100 per month, which makes the average monthly bill around $125.
Since the town is currently in the process of accepting applications from cable vendors for similar services, the Matrix/Millennium proposal cannot be acted upon until the advertised March 11 deadline to submit bids has passed. Next steps to approve any project would most likely be a vendor-lead presentation of the proposal to the select board that will be open to the public.
Check our website for further information and updates regarding this late-breaking news, which could have a significant impact on the committee’s goal to provide affordable high speed fiber optic connectivity to every home.