Jan 2018 Update from the Joint Broadband Committees

A number of important pieces of the broadband project have fallen into place since our last newsletter update. On the construction side, we are now solidly into the design process with our partner Westfield Gas and Electric (WGE). A big piece of the operations puzzle fell into place with the Selectboard signing a MoU (memorandum of understanding) with WiredWest to negotiate a contract for their services to manage the network, once it has been built.

Update from the Joint Broadband Committees

The Fine Print

The town has received the first disbursement ($320,000) out of a total of $730,000 state funding for the project. Wendell's contribution will begin once this money has been exhausted. The State legislature recently voted an additional $45 million for Last Mile Broadband funds.� Details on exactly how these funds will be allocated have yet to be finalized, but the intention is that they be used to cover overruns from the original construction estimates provided by MBI.� This is good news because until this point, the state contribution was capped and towns were responsible for all cost overruns. �

In September, the Selectboard signed a contract with WGE for design, project management and professional services. � Committee members went on a field trip to WGE headquarters in October to meet the people who will be working on our project and see firsthand some of the equipment that will be employed in the build.� Technological developments in the last few years mean that cost of certain aspects of our project will actually be lower than they were for Leverett in their build.� Committee members participate in a bi-weekly conference call to keep both sides up to date on project progress.� We have been consistently impressed with the professionalism and quality of work provided by WGE.

The committee received two responses to an ITB (invitation to bid) issued for a consultant to assist in determining the long term cost implications of upcoming design and operation choices.� Local provider Holyoke Gas and Electric (HG&E) is one of the respondents and the committee will be meeting with them early in the New Year to see how we might use their expertise. �

Next Steps...

WGE is currently creating a strand map that shows the route for fibers connecting each customer location with the electronics hub at the center of town.� Cable bundles on every street will be sized to include a fiber for every house, whether or not they intend to take service at this time.� Because the cost of including fiber at this point is negligible compared to adding it after construction has begun, we also need to include sufficient fibers for future expansion.� You can help by notifying the committee (broadbandcommittee@wendellmass.us) if you have any property that�could be divided or developed into building lots at some future date. �

The monthly subscriber cost for service is�dependent in part on the total cost of construction.� We will have the information needed to set those amounts once the material and construction bidding process is completed in July of this year.� The currently projected completion date for the entire project is March of 2019. �

The Wendell MLP is currently governed by the 3 members of our Selectboard. �The committees will be looking at advantages and disadvantages of an elected vs appointed MLP, and making a recommendation for how to proceed in the near future.� Elections to the MLP board, if that route is chosen, would be part of the town ballot in the spring. �

Wendell Residents are encouraged to attend our meetings (dates and time are posted to the right on the website's calendar as well as on the town list serv.  �

Wendell Broadband Construction Committee
Wendell Broadband Operations Committee