WiredWest Moves Closer to Goal of Wiring Western MA

  • FTTH
  • Matrix Design Group
NORTHAMPTON, MA - WiredWest Communications Cooperative celebrated its first anniversary having taken some major steps to bring its planned fiber optic network to fruition. The cooperative was formed on August 13, 2011 by 22 Western Massachusetts towns that had voted to create Municipal Lighting Plant departments - a step that, under Massachusetts law, also enables towns to offer telecom services. Currently, 37 towns are members of the cooperative, which will offer Internet, phone and video services to residents, businesses and institutions.

In the last year, WiredWest has worked to create a business plan that will enable financing of the project. The business planning effort, which will be completed in the next few months, was made possible by grants from the Massachusetts Broadband Institute, the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission and the Central Berkshire Fund, in addition to donations, cooperative membership fees and thousands of volunteer hours.

The group also created a GIS map database of all utility poles, structures and roads in WiredWest towns for engineering use. Potential network distribution locations in each town were also visited and evaluated.

In January, WiredWest issued a request for information (RFI) for engineering services, and more recently it issued a request for proposals (RFP) for high-level network design and cost estimation. The RFP received 12 responses, and Wired West chose the Matrix Design Group of East Hanover, N.J., a company that has designed and built fiber networks extensively in the Northeast, including ECFiber, a project similar to WiredWest in Vermont. Matrix's work is scheduled to be completed in early October and will be used in WiredWest's business plan and for financing.

In April, WiredWest completed a comprehensive market survey, conducted by Market Street Research. The survey results indicate strong demand for the network and provide important information for WiredWest pricing and packaging decisions and subscription rate estimates.

Last week, WiredWest launched on online Support Card - a request form for Internet, phone and vdeo services from the future WiredWest network. A printed version of the card will be delivered to residents in each town over the next several weeks. The results will be used to support financing and in decisions relating to where and when towns will be wired.

In addition to the business plan, WiredWest will continue to working on potential financing options and on an economic impact study to quantify the regional economic impact of the network.


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