Wendell hosted a recent meeting to see if there is interest in a sub-regional broadband effort. Leverett, who have built a network advised that we have enough work ahead of us to meet every week for a long time, so we should get working, and rhetorical shots at MBI, the legislature, etc. aren’t making this happen faster. If we are concerned about the timeline then we need to get to work.
This is an uneconomic project, largely because of too few potential connections per mile which drive up the cost per mile. It is much like rural electrification. As a result there is no economy of scale to achieve so building one mile or one hundred, or one town or twenty, doesn’t matter much. Cost is much more sensitive to the number of customers per mile than total customers. It is hard to take a bad business case and make it different by just making it bigger.
Some towns are willing to fund the infrastructure build from and rely on taxation to pay off the debt throughout the life of the borrowing. Others, like Warwick, require the project itself to resolve the debt. Must a project be self sustaining or is taxpayer supported debt service acceptable?
Because this kind of last mile build is uneconomic there is a role for non profit or gov / public action. In my opinion the actual network operation should be outsourced to an ISP and not be operated by a start-up coop.
The business case for some towns is better than others. That means some towns are net contributors. The operating agreement could be developed to correct this.
MBI will build the network was often repeated. MBI would be the developer, but a contractor who wins the bid and who hope to profit and whose employees are paid “prevailing wage” will build it. Warwick has built its network and done so with its own employees at our wage rate. (Work) Force Accounts should be considered.
I see for Warwick a way forward using prefabricated fiber (to eliminate field splicing) and using our own workforce on our payroll. This will cut the cost of labor substantially.