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Broadband Committee Minutes 5/5/12

Town of Tolland
Broadband Committee
Meeting Minutes:  May 5, 2012
Approved at September 29, 2012 Committee Meeting.

Meeting Called to Order:  3:00p.m.
Present:  Gloria Gery, Cathy Parzych, Kevin Donovan

Old Business:
  • Second vote on Tolland establishing a municipal lighting plant is scheduled for Special Town Meeting on May 22, 2012.  Warrant has been published.  This will enable us to apply for final membership in Wired West.  Update:  Vote passed 28 to 3 on May 22nd, 2012.
  • $1000 to pay for Wired West membership will be voted on at Special Town Meeting on 5/22/2012.   Update:  Vote passed 28 to 1 to move money from free cash.
  • Cathy and Kevin have been attending Wired West meetings.    Technical details discussed.
  • Wired West wishes to collocate its connections to Mass Broadband in town facilities.  8’ x 8’ air conditioned room with generator back up required.  Generate must have automatic transfer switch.  Gloria will communicate requirements in writing to the Selectmen.
  • Internet Speed Tests:  Requests published in Tattler and on website News and Notices.  62 people have responded.  Gloria summarized the data and sent to Wired West coordinator.  As additional tests come in. Gloria will log and send to Wired West.
  • Marketing Survey:  No one in Tolland has reported calls from Wired West Marketing Survey takers.  Gloria will request written results of Marketing Survey from Monica Webb of Wired West and will share with Committee.  Goal of survey is to assess market appetite for various broadband services.
  • Wired West Update:
  • Reviewing bylaws.
  • Establishing technical specifications.
  • Tolland contact information provided to update Wired West records (Gloria)
  • Tolland contact to work with on pole reconstruction and contacts must be established.  Gloria will coordinate.
New Business:
  • Mass Broadband.
  • They are laying fiber optic cable along route 57.  Service Panels have been installed in the Tolland Public Library and Public Safety Complex.  Library panel must be moved.  Mass Broadband has been notified. Margaret McClellan will notify Gloria when panel installed in Town Hall.
  • They are over budget due to requirements to replace poles on which fiber is being run.
  • Wired West Update
  • 30 towns are have officially completed two warrant votes on establishing Municipal Lighting Plants.
  • Annual Dues:  possibility under discussion.
  • Legal Fees:  Facing substantial legal fees, including retention of corporate council.  Experienced attorney (Diedra Lawrence of Boston is $380 per hour.)
  • Poles: Make-ready work will take at least a year, depending on the companies who own the poles.  Companies want to be paid in advance for pole work.  It’s not clear whether towns can use poles for communications purposes…. Or whether it is possible for the towns to assign poles to Wired West as a cooperative.  Wired West would need to define itself as a telecommunications provider or a cable provider.  They do not wish to become a cable provider.
  • Possible bylaw change regarding Poles:  We must check with tolland for its right of way/contract for using poles for municipal use.  Mass General Law is being evaluated to determine witheether this is only for Fire/Police.  Possible the individual town bylaws will have to be passed to ensure space on all new poles.  This may or may not be feasible.
  • Political pressure is being placed on Verizon to cooperate.
  • Over $125,000 of mapping and engineering work has been done by volunteers.
  • Limited progress on business development and account management.  Looking for volunteers.
  • Susan Crawford, a Harvard profession and journalist, has joined the advisory committee.  Developing a case study to promote municipal broadband.  Wants to escalate as a political issue to move the cause forward.  There is a conference in early June.
  • Town of Leveret has decided to  lay its own fiber network to each business/residence and is financing the network directly through property taxes.  Not waiting for for-profit carriers or Wired West.  Wired West still trying to work with the town.
  • Wired West is trying NOT to make towns liable for the full network installation cost.
  • Preliminary Market Survey Results and marketing issues.
  • Towns will be requested to do mailings to residence and businesses.  Cost will be limited for Tolland.
  • Strong market potential for internet
  • Less demand for television, but local access.
  • Demand for internet-based phones lower.  People seem satisfied with current service.  May not be aware of improved service quality and significantly reduced costs associated with bundling.
  • Demand for each option highest in southern towns, lowest in central.
  • Demand for ultra fast internet highest in south.
  • Fundraising:  Still an issue.  Berkshire Bank providing legal services.    Mass Development Agency approached for start up grant.  Possibility of this becoming a loan.  Looking for tax deductible contributions, possibly as a to1 © 3.
  • Next Wired West Meetings:
  • Saturday, May 19th.  Kevin Donovan will attend.  
  • June 23 – Shutesbury.  Attendee TBD.
  • July 21, Peru.  Gloria will attend.

Meeting adjourned:  4:30 p.m.

Next meeting date:  TBD

Respectfully submitted:

Gloria Gery

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