HAWLEY BROADBAND UPDATE – FEBRUARY, 2020
By Lark Thwing
Communications Committee Chair and
Chairman, FHMS Four Town Broadband Committee
I’m sure it feels like Hawley’s broadband is never ever going to happen. But don’t lose hope. It is happening slowly but surely. Infrastructure is being installed and once that is done people are being connected.
Here’s how the infrastructure process works. We started with a desktop model with the most likely locations for poles. Some of those locations must be confirmed with actual radio signals before the pole is put in place. But here’s the general procedure: install the pole; notify the utility company that we need electricity brought to the pole; install the hardware and antennas on the pole; have utility company come, and in most cases, install an electric utility pole on the same side of the road as our broadband pole, then run electricity to that new electric pole; then we run underground conduit from the new electric pole to our broadband pole. Before any pole can be put in we have to have a pole hearing in the local community. We’ve had the pole hearing for Hawley’s poles but if we need to relocate a pole more than a hundred feet we need a new pole hearing. The electric companies need pole hearings as well. All of these steps take time.
|. . . and the process applies to all Four Towns|
The priority that the FHMS Four Town Broadband Committee set for our vendor, WiValley, is first and foremost to get the poles in while we have access to the ground, then to get the utilities brought to those poles, then to get the hardware installed on the poles, and then to get a signal link from our main pole location in Savoy on Chapel Hill Loop Road to the individual poles or whatever relay pole is necessary. Just having a pole up does not mean we’re getting a signal to it and therefore does not mean that it can be serving customers. Right now we can serve customers from the main pole in Savoy and we can serve customers from the pole established at Berkshire East which is linked to the main Savoy pole. By the end of January we expect to have poles at the Florida Town Hall and Bliss Hill in Florida linked to the main Savoy pole and able to serve customers. To be clear, we only connect customers when the WiValley crew(s) cannot build infrastructure.
[Next: status of poles.]
We currently have 27 customers being served from the two locations- Chapel Hill in Savoy and Berkshire East. Eight of those customers are receiving 50 mbps down/10 mbps up (50/10 mbps), 13 customers are receiving 25/3 mbps, and 6 of those customers are receiving 12/2 mbps. We have to make sure that we can supply 96% of all customers with at least 25/3 mbps eventually.
Many people have queried us about the pole we needed on Legate Hill. As you know there was legal action related to that pole. When we finally tested that site with an actual signal we determined it would not receive a signal and therefore Legate Hill is no longer a location we are looking at. Workarounds in Hawley are being planned.
For those of you who want to follow the progress of our Broadband build-out you can do so at the Town of Hawley website. Or go to http://www.townofhawley.com/wp-content/uploads/docs/Broadband/Four-Towns/four-towns-documents-page.html
The status of poles in Hawley is as follows:
The pole at the top of West Hill Road is complete except for power connection and then signal linkage. Hope to have this complete by the end of February.
The pole at Berkshire East is fully operational and serving customers.
The pole near Doane cemetery and Sidehill Farm is installed but not configured, no electricity. Hope to have power and signal linkage by the end of February.
The pole at Hawley Town Hall is installed but not configured, no electricity.
Poles are scheduled for installation by the end of January at Forget Road near Grout Road, lower East Hawley Road, and Forge Hollow Road. We hope to have power and signal linkage complete between the end of February and mid April.
The pole near Stetson Road needs a pole hearing.
Poles on Middle Road, West Hawley Road and Plainfield Road near the town line need further testing and evaluation before being located.
We expect to have all infrastructure completed by the end of June. If you want to be connected to the Broadband Network contact otelco.com/fhms and sign up to be notified when service is available in your area.
Please remember that this process is fluid and updates occur sometimes on a daily basis. Thank you for your interest!