If You Ever Want Broadband, You Must Vote on Tuesday
As you consider the merits of the upcoming vote at the Nov 18 special town meeting, there is one overarching and sweeping factor that we must all grapple with:
Princeton is the largest “unserved” community in the state of Massachusetts for broadband internet. [source]
That’s one of the least appealing labels you would want associated with your town if:
- You are a homeowner and are counting on your property to increase in value.
- You are a parent with school age children and want them to have broadband for school before they graduate.
- You own a small business or you have a career that depends upon working from home with reliable, fast internet.
The Nov 18 vote will determine, once and for all, whether or not we as a community have the will and progressiveness to change that fact.
On this site, we have talked on the merits of the Matrix plan and the rationale for the request to borrow for the “make ready” costs. We have talked about why our community needs reliable broadband for working from home, school, entertainment – as well as pragmatically for home valuations.
But we have not said much about what happens if the Nov 18 vote does not pass by 2/3rds majority.
Simply put, the ramifications are sweeping, severe, and unforgiving:
First, Matrix’s offer to pay for the entire network construction (that’s 73% of the whole project cost) will be terminated. Matrix will move onto other unserved communities in Western Massachusetts and elsewhere.
Second, we will seriously damage our chances of getting a state grant to pay for the “make ready” costs. Princeton has a possible opportunity to get some/all of our “make ready” costs paid for through the recently passed IT Bond Bill. However, in our discussions with state officials, it is clear that “skin in the game” is a key determinant in the division of funds to the 26 unserved towns. A NO vote would show that we have no “skin in the game” at all and would put us in the back of the line.
Third, in the end, we will continue to be the largest “unserved” community in the state of Massachusetts for the indefinite future.
The Best Possible Plan for Our Unique Circumstances
Maybe there’s aspects of the Matrix plan that you would like to change. Maybe you think a better option will come down the pike if we just wait.
But we should all be very careful with basing our vote on quibbles with the plan or dreams of a knight in shining armor just around the corner. There are no Plan B’s. There are no other suitors waiting in the wings. Comcast, Charter, and Verizon have even gone so far as to formally decline an offer to come into town. And, doing it ourselves would cost taxpayers over three times more than the Matrix plan would.
The broadband committee has been working on a solution to present to the town for two years. We have wrestled with every conceivable broadband technology, engaged many vendors, and assessed every possible financial solution. When you factor in the state of the telecom/cable industry and the unique demographics and geography of our town, each committee member will say unequivocally that the Matrix private/public plan is the best plan possible for our community.
Compared to any imaginable alternative, the Matrix plan significantly reduces our tax burden, minimizes our town’s risk, maximizes services to the entire town (not just the most densely populated areas), and is future proofed for generations to come.
Let’s do this Princeton.