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Western Mass. Explores Building the Fiber Verizon Won't
by Karl Bode 02:50PM Friday Aug 22 2014
Way back in 2005 we profiled the Massachusetts towns of Shutesbury and Leverett, two shining examples of the kinds of U.S. towns that exist in broadband connectivity black holes courtesy of limited competition. Neither Comcast or Verizon responded to requests to extend broadband, and Verizon could barely be bothered to keep aging copper in the region fully functional. The better part of a decade later (2012), and Leverett decided to finally build their own fiber to the home service.

Users were so annoyed with Verizon's unwillingness to upgrade them, 83% of the community voted yes on a fiber to the home project that will add $300 to the median tax bill for the next twenty years. Locals don't seem too worried about it, arguing the money they save on broadband and headaches will make it worth it:
D’Errico said he now pays about $90 per month for basic Internet satellite service and another $60 for his telephone service. He believes his payments for phone and high-speed Internet will be reduced after he can get both through broadband. "Seventy-five percent of households in town, after paying the bond bill, will have money in their pockets, because of savings,” he said. “There’s also a huge benefit for the rental market and for home valuations."
Project planners hope to have the entire town connected with fiber to the home by the end of the year. When ISPs (or others) begin complaining about these municipal broadband efforts, it's worth remembering they simply wouldn't exist if locals were happy with the options available to them.

98 comments .. click to read

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Space Elf
Mullica Hill, NJ

5 recommendations

reply to ITGeeks

Re: Do It Yourself

if 83% say yes that is how our system works.

What about a school? if only 83% vote yes to building a new one to replace a woefully out of date one should the project not happen?

if the telco or cable co is too cheap and too lazy to bring an area into the 21st century then there is no choice but to do something about it.
Filan - Aurin Spellslinger - Pago - Team Legacy


Purcellville, VA
·T-Mobile US
·Verizon Online DSL

5 recommendations

Shove it, VZ.

You know, its amazing how some people here sound like their Telecom Exec's/Politicians. Your working against yourself. Those of you against people who have NOTHING (0.0kbps) building their own network should put yourself in their shoes - leave your cushy world and think for a moment.

Their kids cant do their homework reliably. They cant take care of work stuff. They cant do research. They cant pay online bills. Its like living in 1990.

It was profitable enough to build out POTS way back when Ma Bell was the ILEC. She never bitched about serving remote rural addresses. She even developed a tiny digital telephone switch before RT's were possible (3ESS) for more small rural CO's to be possible.

Verizon has abandoned a lot of its footprint like this. Its not just western Massachusetts. There is a lot of this in Virginia too. 55 minutes outside of the nations capitol there is a black hole of broadband.

My friend lives in a rural but rather dense (at least 20 houses per mile) area of the richest county in the nation. There is no DSL. There is no Cable. There is no FTTH. There is only 1 shitty WISP that can barely provide service, dial up is better. AT&T 3G is reduced to 20kbps speeds due to everyone using that as their internet.

Here is the fun part. Before Verizon became Verizon Bell Atlantic was installing fiber fed remote terminals allover this area, shortening the copper loop. His loop is 700 meters before it hits a remote, perfectly feasible to have DSL (its a late 90s Lucent Lightspan - DSL ready) Along that 700 meters is about 30 homes spread out in various ways.

There is Verizon fiber literally in front of his house, allover the area. But its not for anyone to use, its not FIOS. Some fat cables too. No way all the strand is used up for DLC voice and the 1 cell tower in the area.

Essentially VZ started modernizing the copper plant in this rural area and then lost attention like a child with ADD some time in 2002.

People like those of you who say "Oh who needs broadband munis communism bleh i love ILEC i love the MSO's they can have my kids" sound JUST LIKE those people in the 1920's who said Universal Service of Electricity was stupid. FDR set them straight.

We were lucky that Theodore Vail, the big boss at the Bell System believed in Universal Service as the key to the system staying alive. "One Policy, One System: Universal Service."

Verizon earned 31 billion in gross revenue last quarter. They are a rich ILEC - yet they abandon their customers.

Even shitty little Frontier is expanding DSL service.

aka novaflare. pull punches? Na
Barberton, OH

6 recommendations

reply to ITGeeks

Re: Muni

You know honestly the way you talk you sound like your a twc att Comcast etc exec who is afraid of having his toes stepped on by the munis.

Cincinnatus, NY
·Frontier Communi..

4 recommendations

reply to elray
I thought we were talking about Leverett, Massachusetts not LA. Look at a map. No municipal sewer, water, or electric. Neither Comcast or Verizon (from the linked article) is providing their customers needs. The voters have spoken and think $25/mo is worth it to overbuild the incumbents. They'll be paying it - not you.

I applaud these communities for the courage to take on these projects.



4 recommendations

reply to silbaco
said by silbaco:

I think people underestimate the costs of munis. Sure, they will usually offer great customer service. The connections are usually unthrottled, unlimited, uncongested (peering points). The fiber ones usually offer speeds way beyond that of the incumbents. But do they actually save people money?

If I was stuck in area like these people are with no (even remotely decent) options for Internet access I couldn't care less if I was saving any money or not. I applaud these people for providing for themselves when stuck in a "have not" zone for Internet access.

aka novaflare. pull punches? Na
Barberton, OH

3 recommendations

reply to silbaco
You are forgetting that fiber to the home also means fiber to the store front. Fibered up cities are very attractive to many different types of shops. Internet cafes being one of them. Mid range hotels for another. Any person who travels allot for work may have their company bypass a city with only cable and dsl providers in-favor of one where the hotel has fiber based internet. So now you get business men coming to your town to stay at hotels in your town. This means while they stay they will buy food and hard goods in your town as well. Some may also move to your town at some point. Also computer shops that do repairs and things like virus and spyware clean up will also find your town attractive. Meaning more tax money comes in to your town.

At least that is the hope they have. Will it pay off every time not hardly. But they also know that when it does pay off it can pay off in big ways. So the risk to a town vs payoff is low. They can always scrap it if it starts bleeding money and it becomes a failed experiment. The customers will have enjoyed it while it lasted and the infrastructure is already there (if possibly poorly maintained) for a regular isp to simply repair and upgrade vs having to do new runs they can just reuse and or repair what is there.


Roslindale, MA

7 recommendations

reply to Flyonthewall

Re: Do It Yourself

I wish a law was passed that said if you refuse to serve an area than you have no legal right to try to stop or complain when the community does it themselves. I am tired of the cable co's and phone companies wasting money fighting gov broadband projects and not fully deploying within there service areas


2 edits

2 recommendations


I think people underestimate the costs of munis. Sure, they will usually offer great customer service. The connections are usually unthrottled, unlimited, uncongested (peering points). The fiber ones usually offer speeds way beyond that of the incumbents. But do they actually save people money?

A quick look at the websites of some cable munis seems to say no. In fact the price per Mbps is often times way above what most people here complain about from incumbents. That doesn't include the cost of building and maintaining the network they have paid and may continue to pay through taxes. And many are clearly out of date, some maxing out at 15 Mbps. Fiber munis are still young. Some offer great speeds for the money. But it seems many are priced similarly to incumbents just to get the service, again excluding the money people have to pay through taxes and other means.

You don't just build a network and then never pay a dime from there on out. That network has to be maintained and upgraded. There are employees to pay to handle all aspects of the muni. Equipment to purchased and maintained. Etc. It should be no surprise that some of the most commonly known success stories and competitive munis cover populations of 100k+ and have access to serious cash.

Warner Robins, GA

8 recommendations

Western Massachusetts municipal FTTH.

Good for them. We will need more municipal FTTH projects and Google Fiber projects to get the incumbent wired ISPs to get more serious about upgrading networks and providing service.