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Shutesbury Broadband Committee Take Steps to Improve Access

November 03, 2014

Shutesbury Broadband Committee Take Steps to Improve Access


By Frank Griffin
TMCnet Contributing Writer

As communities across the country look to deploy broadband capabilities, they are trying to find the best solutions available for their particular requirements in order to deliver the services their residents need. Currently, fiber technology is the preferred method of delivery for broadband services, and whether the infrastructure is being deployed above or below ground, the impact it will have in the community is one of the challenges they face as they move forward. The Shutesbury Broadband Committee in Massachusetts is looking to improve the Internet access in its community by deploying a fiber optic cable infrastructure, which will be 100 times faster than the existing technology in Shutesbury.

Currently, residents in Shutesbury use DSL, satellite and in some instances dial-up modems connected to their telephone land lines. Scott Merzbach of the reports the Shutesbury Broadband Committee is looking at three different options.

According to Merzbach, the committee has been considering the solutions available in nearby communities including: owning its own fiber network designed, built and owned by the town; being part of a cooperative of more than 40 towns trying to identify a regional solution for fiber to the home; or choose or establish a public private partnership between the town and a private telecommunications company.

The members of the committee want to ensure the deployment of this technology is made available to everyone in their community, even in the areas with limited number of residents. A volunteer group of 60 members is in the process of conducting a pole inventory in the 27.2-square-mile town to determine the final cost of stringing fiber and making the technology available to everyone. Merzbach said volunteers will go through a mandatory training from 7 to 9 p.m. Nov. 7 at the Shutesbury Elementary School, and count every pole in the town.

The aerial fiber-optic cable system project is being carried out with an anticipated launch slated for January of 2015, and once completed the high-speed Internet and telephone service will be delivered by Crocker Communications of Greenfield.

Broadband technology is no longer a luxury, today it is an essential utility demanded by individuals and organizations when they decide to purchase a home or move their business to a new community. Not having the proper broadband infrastructure in place can lower property values, push businesses to divest and move to communities that have the technology, lower education performance, delay telehealth delivery, hinder first responders and more.

The town’s website has revealed the network will be funded with state money from the $50 million Massachusetts IT bond bill, which is authorized for distribution by the MBI (Massachusetts Broadband Institute).

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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