AFTER ALMOST FIVE YEARS of meetings, phone calls, interactions with MBI and thousands of email messages, the Hawley Communications Committee has finally received a proposal for Broadband that seems to meet all requirements. It is not likely to cost the Town any taxpayer money.
This proposal is from WiValley, a Keene, NH-based Internet network builder and services provider which has significant experience in designing, implementing and operating fiber, wireless and hybrid fiber-wireless Internet systems in New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts.
The proposal would involve a multi-town network. Four towns — Hawley, Savoy, Florida and Monroe — were all included in the proposal group. In addition, the Towns of Middlefield and Worthington would be joined in a similar network.
Here are some features that made the proposal interesting to the Committee:
► The network will primarily be wireless, although some fiber optic cable may be added in more population-dense areas, if it makes sense, once the wireless system is up and running and generating revenue. Wireless technology is more economical, costing about a third as much as fiber, takes less time to build, and is more likely than fiber to survive and recover quickly from storm damage and natural disasters. The latest wireless technologies are capable of speeds and reliability that are competitive with fiber and continue to improve.
► The entire installation would be covered by existing State funding allocations — no financial commitment on the part of the Town or its taxpayers would be necessary.
► The “vertical assets,” i.e., the poles on which the wireless equipment will be located, would be owned by the towns, giving them the ability to swap out network operators in the future, if needed, without losing the basic infrastructure. The towns could use these same poles to mount additional communications equipment, for town and public safety radio networks, significantly improving fire, police, highway and EMS communications.
► There will likely be no installation fee for subscribers to connect to the network, or it will be very low.
► The expected time to build is such that if the project is “green lighted” by all parties in March of 2018, the wireless network could be complete and operational by the following December.
► The monthly user subscriber fee would be relatively low, starting at $59.95 per month for the base package of 12Mbps down/2Mbps up, with no data cap and low signal latency. This is better than what is available to most people in the Hawley area right now.
► While no final decisions have been made, the Communications Committee and Select Board felt strongly enough about the proposal’s merits to join the Town of Savoy in conveying a “Letter of Support” to the Towns of Florida, Monroe, Middlefield and Worthington encouraging them to participate.
Download copies of the Letter of Support, the WiValley proposal, FAQ’s and other materials HERE.