Broadband: Grant Received and Design Underway!

Grant for Broadband Network Received

Charlemont has received $960,000 from a special state grant program for building a fiber-optic network!

Fiber Optic Network Design

With the state grant funding, the town will be assessing the costs of the project and developing a design for the network. We will be working with our selected vendor, Westfield Gas + Electric, to create a design that can be used for a competitive bid process for this major infrastructure initiative. Taking this initial design step does not obligate the town to build a network but will give us a clear idea of the full costs associated with this project. No Charlemont taxes will be expended during the design and bid phase.

Pole Survey

The first step is to survey each utility pole that might be used in the fiber optic network. This "pole survey" will begin on August 22 and is expected to continue through the month of August. 

The process of a pole survey involves a survey crew driving to each utility pole n Charlemont and taking measurements and photos of the utility pole. At each residence, the crew will take a measurement to estimate the distance from the last pole to the home. 

Two information sessions will be held to answer any questions about the pole survey, conducted by a firm that specializes in collecting this utility pole data, Precision Valley Communications. 

Pole Survey FAQs

After several years of hard work to bring high speed internet to Charlemont, the town has received a State grant to begin the engineering and construction of our Fiber Optic Network.  We’re ready to begin step one – The Pole Survey.

What is a Pole Survey? 

The Pole Survey gathers the information that the engineers need to design our network. The survey will begin on August 22nd, and is expected to last several weeks. The survey crews from Precision Valley Communications (PVC) will measure the utility poles, and the distances between the poles and structures throughout Charlemont.  They will also measure the distances to where the power or telephone line enters your home or business. The survey team will be wearing vests and have Precision Valley Communications ID badges.

Will the survey cost the homeowner or the Taxpayers anything? 

No.  The Pole Survey is being paid for from our State grant. There is no cost to the homeowner/landowner and no cost to the town.

Does the Pole Survey mean I must take Broadband Service? 

No. The pole survey doesn’t obligate anyone to take service.

What if I don’t want my home / business surveyed?

If a resident objects to having the survey team on their property, they can contact the Town Hall and they will be skipped.  PLEASE NOTE:  If you choose to be omitted from the survey, it means that a potential connection to your house will not be included in the network design, and you will not be able to sign up for service during the initial sign-up period. Extending service to locations not surveyed will cost the owner significantly more in the future. It may not be possible to include them until after the initial network has been completed.

Have more questions?

Contact Peg Dean at the town hall (339-4335 x9) or Bob Handsaker, Broadband Committee Chair (339-0232).

Other News

WiredWest Refunds

Thanks so much for signing up for WiredWest broadband internet service last year to help us make our required 40% commitment for participation in the cooperative.  Recent announcements from WiredWest and the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) have confirmed that WiredWest will not be building a multi-town fiber network. WiredWest may still be chosen by the towns to serve as a network operator or ISP, but each town must first fund and build their own network. This is disappointing to many of the small towns who, like Charlemont, saw a cooperative multi-town project as the best and most affordable option. All of the current options being explored are expected to cost more than $49.00/ month.

The Broadband Committee is recommending leaving these deposits with Wired West at this time because they may be the best choice for network operator. For residents who would like a refund, the instructions for requesting a refund can be found on the WiredWest website ( http://wiredwest.net/campaign/refunds/ ) and the instructions are included here for convenience.

We at WiredWest have pledged to return customer deposits with interest upon request.  In order to fulfill the legal requirement to have funds removed from the escrow account where the deposites are now held, we must hear from you directly and in writing.  Email does not satisfy this requirement.

Please mail a written, signed request to:

WiredWest

Old Courthouse

99 Main Street

Northampton, MA 01060

Include the name and service address used when your deposit was originally made.  You should expect to receive your refund with interest within 2-3 weeks of our receiving your written request.

The broadband committee have sample letters available. If you received support from a neighbor, an employer, or the fiber or rental fund, please return your deposit to these folks once received.  We are deeply appreciative of the people and organizations that have supported the subscription campaign. 

Sample letters:

Find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CharlemontFiber

 Related Department, Committee or Organization: Broadband CommitteeEconomic Development Roundtable