Monterey Broadband Update
July 31, 2017
There are a lot of questions and angst regarding Broadband given the increase in relevant articles in various publications. Much of the focus has been on the state’s efforts in a number of other towns without a mention of Monterey. As we have been stating for several months, Monterey is in a different situation than our surrounding neighbors.
The initial focus of the state was Fiber-to-the-Home. This was modified last November, for a number of reasons, to allow participation of traditional “cable” operators. This was done as the original process was taking too much time and the state was genuinely looking for a solution to the 41 un/underserved towns. The state continues to run two programs…one for third party vendors to propose and implement their broadband solutions and the second program for towns that will design, build, own and operate their own networks.
Monterey is already in the process of being wired and now lit up by a private company, Fiber Connect. The state did not qualify Fiber Connect as a recipient for the $1.1M grant due to the fact that it is a start-up without relevant financial history. The Broadband Committee/MLP petitioned the state to re-look at Fiber Connect considering the fact that they are well underway with their effort to cover close to 70% of the town with private funds. We are seeking the grant monies to build out the remaining 30% of the town. The state visited the MLP committee on 25-July to begin the discussion round the re-look and qualification process. We expect to receive a draft of the state requirements in August.
In the meantime, Fiber Connect will continue to wire and connect local residents. According to state officials, our grant money is safe while undergoing this qualification process.
At this point, Fiber Connect still enjoys a 2+ year time advantage over Charter. The lead time is greatly influenced by a process called “make ready” where the broadband provider must apply to Verizon and National Grid for access to the poles. Each pole must be individually inspected to determine suitability to add additional wiring and to determine if existing lines must be moved to make room. This process takes minimally a few months to 6 months or more. Traditional “cable” companies also require negotiation of a Franchise Agreement between the town and the provider. This also must be negotiated and executed prior to work beginning.
In summary, process wise we are inching towards conclusion. We were informed that 40+ Fiber Connect subscribers are already on-line.