Our Responses to Survey Comments

3611335519_627c379d2dThank you for answering our survey and for allowing us the opportunity to address the great comments you provided.

“What are the next steps to make this happen?”

A formal request to fund a fiber network design will be presented at the annual town meeting in May and we expect to ask for Requests For Bids (RFB) next fall from qualitifed companies interested in building our network. With a valid bid, construction could start as early as late 2013 with an expected completion before the end of 2014. Click here to view our timeline chart posted on this Web site.

Our goal is to get every home and business in Princeton that is serviced by the PMLD electrical grid connected to the fiber-optic network. All network-related work done on the street as well as bringing the fiber into the home/business is to be built and owned by the town. After a reviewprocess, we will contract for the construction, maintenance and servicing of the network. All of the monthly subscriber costs will pay for these services. None of the costs will go back into the general fund other than for bond service.

“System reliability is a must!”

A fiber optic network is ultimately reliable if designed, built and maintained correctly. The plan for our network is to have “loop redundancy” so if a tree falls and breaks a line, network control will adapt and connectivity will not be lost. The plan for equipment is to have spare parts in inventory. The only point of single contact will be from the local connection points to the Internet backbone in Westminster. Having a secondary connection to the backbone elsewhere would be prohibitively expensive at this time but could be considered later.

“We are retired old folks…. but a 5x upgrade would be nice… but only if it were inexpensive as we are on fixed income… and how much fuss is the hookup going to cause….”

The bond to build the network includes the fiber to your home and the network box inside your dwelling. The Internet speed provided by the network will be faster than any current speed reported in our questionnaire by a significant amount. The in-home installation will in most instances be an easy process.

The Massachusetts Broadband Initiative (MBI) is supported by federal and state grants. MBI’s grant to Princeton to connect the town into the Internet backbone along Route 2 in Westminster has made this work possible. This connection to six community access points in Princeton makes building a town network possible

“Town ‘owned’ services had better be able to meet the premium quality and service or it will be useless to the consumer.”

“Princeton should not be in the business of providing internet service. Their previous effort has been a total disaster…”

It is important to remember that the town will own the network, the aerial and underground fiber and the electronic equipment needed to make it work. The town will contract with an outside vendor to run and maintain the network. These services will be paid for out of the service fees charged. These contracts will be transparent as far as law allows and have requirements for customer service and system reliability. Further, these contracts will undergo a strict competitive biding process to get the best for the network owners, which are all Princeton residents

“Our primary phone service from Ooma is now both free and excellent. I don’t think I would consider paying more than $50 month for broadband service…”

Our proposed network will include Voice-Over-Internet (VOIP) telephone service in the monthly cost and a very small part of the network bandwidth will be allocated to ensure good service at every level. It is NOT required that you subscribe to this VOIP service nor the Internet service as that choice will be optional. Unless you explicitly opt out of the network build in writing, the fiber and network box will be installed along your electrical service, subscribed or not. We are striving to keep your cost as low as possible with better quality.

“I have Verizon DSL, but what might change my mind is if the (new service is the) same (…) or better”

Several Princeton residents who live close to a Verizon-owned facility in town have access to DSL service. However, it is no secret that Verizon is abandoning DSL in favor of their heavily marketed FIOS network. In our communications with Verizon, they have stated that Princeton presents some “unique challenges” for FIOS deployment and that we are not in their plans for at least five years. We believe the product we will build will compare favorably to FIOS and convince you to adopt our network.

“Would like to see internet/phone/TV service bundled for less than $99.”

“I hear you are looking at a double play of Internet and phone. I suggest you re-think that to be Internet and TV.”

We can best respond to these comments by saying our network will only provide Internet and phone (VOIP) and that present legal FCC restrictions prohibit delivery of TV without creating a licensed delivery system, the cost of which is exorbitant for a town our size. As a result, there are presently no plans to provide OTA TV (antenna) or ‘cable’ TV. We expect these restrictions will change over the coming years and nothing we are building would restrict our offering TV-like services when regulations and economics permit. When the time comes and the regulations change, our new fiber system will put us in an excellent position to provide TV service as well.

“Why don’t you say how much it might cost for various classes of service if say 25, 50 or 75 percent of the town were to sign up?”

Presently we don’t have all the information to publish the service costs, but projected costs per month per household for Internet and telephone will be around $70. We had not planned on having different classes of service but recent discussions, including your comments, have started some consideration. A higher participation rate would most likely reduce operating cost but would require higher bandwidth cost to support more expected traffic. We will publish more data as we gather it.

“We pay for GB (gigabit) usage which is VERY costly and limits what we can access/download as a result. We would be extremely interested in Internet without a GB usage limit.”

Research shows that many using high speed Internet consider 320GB/month as a typical high bandwidth usage. We believe that often the higher levels of usage are limited more by user connections and the source/destination’s hardware’s ability to handle that bandwidth than the limit of our intended network. This subject is a work in progress. Contact us with your details to help us get to an economically feasible result.

“I believe the town should wire (fiber) but then sell or reach an agreement with a major carrier to support it and provide the service.”

We have asked this question to Verizon, Charter and Comcast and all three players tell us that have no interest in driving our network. There are many other large and dependable ISPs who are dealing with the state’s initiative who would be very interested in being the ISP for Princeton. There is a list of ISPs working with MBI on our website in the “Axia” presentation.

“Cost needs to be lower with better service.”

Again, we expect costs to be around $70 per month.  As far as performance is concerned, our “worst-case” projections for speed vs. cost point to greater than a 10x speed increase in both upload and download. There is nothing more reliable than a fiber optic network, which is immune to weather woes and does not corrode. Fiber is also a renewable resource as it is made most from silica (sand).

“This questionnaire is flawed since you do not allow “never” or “not needed” as an option. I use internet at two sites in town with absolutely no connectivity issues. This is a waste of money. Use a mobile hotspot or cellular for these needs.”

We respectfully disagree. We make our case for a municipally funded network that will better address some of following:

  • Lack of broadband makes it difficult to sell homes in Princeton compared to well-connected neighboring towns
  • Schools are at a disadvantage to others in the area limiting online access to information and completing homework assignments online
  • Lack of high-speed access limits telecommuting and participating in many work-related tasks from home offices
  • Online educational programs that require a fast Internet connection limit participation from Princeton residents
  • Telemedicine is a fast growing option that is leaving Princeton residents behind in the ability to converse with medical and home health professionals online and having the option to conduct/monitor many medical tests from the comfort of home.

We believe wireless network access is limited by costly caps, a poor signal, and is restricted to only one carrier. DSL and WiMAX are nearing obsolescence and satellite reception is weather dependent and adds unnecessary clutter to the homeowner’s property.

With the help of MBI, now is the time to deploy an affordable, ultra fast broadband fiber-optic network to every home in Princeton. We need your help and input to make this happen in an efficient and cost effective manner.

“What were the specifics of the Ayacht purchase of the Princeton’s wireless system?”

The deal between Ayatcht and PMLD has no connection with the initiatives of the Broadband Committee. If you are interested or concerned about the PMLD/Ayatcht contract, contact those parties for specific details.

“Who is on the committee?”

Our committee members are:

  • Stephen Cullen, chair
  • William Dino
  • John Kowaleski, Jr.
  • Stan Moss
  • Philip O’Brien
  • Dag Frode Olsen
  • Petr Spacek
  • Ned Utzig
  • Rich Wagner

Our meetings are held normally held Wednesdays at 7 p.m. in Town Hall. Interested members of the public are invited to attend.

4 comments

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  4. D.

    The survey results are presented with bias towards the appearance of wide support for town-funding of the infrastructure, which is not the case. The inquiry should have included a cost component in asking the question ” Would you be interested in ultra high-speed internet?”. Posing the question this way is like asking “Would you like to have a million dollars?” – of course most people would answer yes to that. If the question were “would you like to have a million dollars if it cost you two million”, the support will drop to zero pretty quickly – the cost is an importance factor. The projected $70 a month is unreasonably high (DSL is only about $26), and that does not include the monthly cost of the 20 year tax increase to pay for installing the network. If its not cost-effective for Verizon to build a network in Princeton, its certainly not cost effective for the town to do so. Chances are, the actual costs will be higher than predicted, and the subscriber base will be smaller, causing the build-out cost and monthly maintenance component to be higher than estimated. The PMLD high-speed wireless project did not obtain a sufficient subscriber base to cover costs and was not viable – that lesson is being ignored in all of this. The risks need to be more fully presented for people to make a smart decision. Determining how many would actually abandon their existing service to sign up for this high-cost plan should be much more carefully understood and factored into projected upkeep costs and project viability. What do we do when in 10 years when technology evolves (it will) and the system we are still paying for becomes obsolete? Install a new system for another $6 million? The town shouldn’t be in the technology business – that’s already been proven.

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