Warwick considers broadband options

WARWICK — Warwick is talking to two commercial Internet providers as it seeks alternatives to the WiredWest non-profit cooperative for bringing broadband to every home in town.

Town officials are looking at Crocker Communications of Greenfield and Axia Consulting of Boston. Both offered to bring in broadband service for roughly $69 to $75 a month.

The Selectboard and Finance Committee met with the company’s representatives Tuesday.

An official of Mass. Broadband Institute, the quasi-public agency with $40 million in state funds to assist towns with developing requests for proposals for Internet providers, also met with town officials.

Warwick hasn’t decided what kind of network it’s leaning toward, but there are a few options, such as fiber-optic, wireless or a hybrid. Once determined, the next step is choosing someone to install the final stretch of connections to local users within the town, using WiredWest’s co-op approach where multiple towns are involved, or hiring someone like Axia or Crocker to install a stand-alone network.

Axia Consulting

Axia’s goal, according to sales director Marc Bouvier, is to offer broadband through installation of fiber-optic near each home. He said Axia would serve as a network operator and a 24/7, year-round retail service provider.

“For every resident in town, we would bring fiber within the curb, or near to that location, as a $600 fee per residence as part of our delivery.”

Bouvier said the company would design the network, coordinate construction. He said the network design will be within MBI’s guidelines, so the construction grant money is still available for the town’s use.

“We will build fiber to the home, from the curb, including the electronics, up to 300 feet,” he said. “Beyond 300 feet, we work with the individual homeowner to determine what the additional cost will be.”

He also stated that Axia will manage, maintain and provide customer service support. The end user price per month, would be $49 for two years at a 100-megabit connection with a $99 installation charge. For a two-year gigabit service, it would cost the household $69 with no installation fee.

Bouvier said the town would own system.

Crocker Communications

Crocker provides broadband service to Leverett, which has created its own town-owned and town-funded network. Crocker President Matthew Crocker said unlike Leverett, Warwick won’t have to hire a company to design and build infrastructure, because MBI will take on that role with partial funding as well as project management and construction oversight.

Crocker will focus on the retail sales, support, billing and production services to keep the network running. For Leverett, the household price of Internet totals $75 per month for a gigabit of bandwidth.

A bundle price for the combination of voice and Internet service is also an option, which based on Leverett’s experience might be up to $95 a month depending on the type of service.

Selectboard member Lawrence “Doc” Pruyne, said broadband is a great opportunity for the town because the connection will be stronger with a small difference in price.

“Now, we’re paying $120 a month for Internet and phone and the phone doesn’t work,” he said. “Under fiber cable, we’d pay about the same amount and have great service.”

You can reach Rachel Rapkin at: rrapkin@recorder.com or 413-772-0261 ext. 263


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