This past spring, we introduced you to the small town of Leverett, in rural western Massachusetts. Having been largely ignored by the cable companies and left behind by Verizon's DSL service, the community overwhelmingly approved a town-owned network initiative in a May vote. They decided to finance the FTTH network with a 20-year bond measure.
The debt will be serviced by both the revenues from selling services on the network and a modest increase in property taxes estimated at 6%. Local leaders calculate the increase in property taxes will amount to less than the savings created by lowering existing DSL and telephone services.
Peter d'Errico, of the Leverett Broadband Committee gave us an update via email:
We issued a Request for Information (RFI) in September. Thirteen respondents gave us a wealth of information about the state of the industry and their readiness to engage with our project. Based on this information, together with our already-completed network design, we are now crafting an Invitation for Bids (IFB) for the network build and one year's maintenance. We expect to issue the IFB early January, with a return date in February, which will allow us to select a contractor shortly thereafter.
As soon as we issue the IFB, we will draft a Request for Proposals (RFP) for network operator / service provider. This will also be based on the information gathered from the RFI and our design.
We have initiated the 'make-ready' process with the local utility and phone company.
A November Gazette.Net article [requires login] on the project described some temporary setbacks due to Hurricane Sandy and an October storm that came through the area. In order to keep the project momentum going, the committee is gathering the pieces needed now and in the future. Early prep work will make launching the network that much easier. From the article:
Leverett homeowners already received an easement request in the mail along with their property tax bills last week, which they were asked to sign and return to the Town Clerk’s office. The form will give the town permission to install connection points between the town’s central grid and individual properties.
“It’s a necessary step; once we input the network itself, we’ll be able to go house by house and set up the last segment for each one,” d’Errico explained, noting a strong response to the request so far. “We’ve received tons of signatures back very quickly. We should be in good shape for that final step when we reach it.”
We will pass on more info about this project as it becomes available.