As you may know, according to the agreement that Comcast made with the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) and agreed to by the Town of Worthington, they were required to reach at least 96% of the residences in Worthington in exchange for a financial commitment from the state and town. Ultimately last fall we were able to secure an agreement to reach 97.7% of the residences in Worthington. That left 15 homes out. The agreement with the MBI further required Comcast to provide us with the cost to reach those additional houses and to give Worthington the option to pay for the additional construction. We have been waiting since last fall for the cost figures and we have finally received them.
We plan to bring the following warrant article to Town Meeting next Saturday, May 4, 2019, at 9:30 a.m.
ARTICLE THREE: To see if the Town will vote to Appropriate and Transfer from the General Stabilization Fund the sum of $179,015.63 to fund the additional construction by Comcast of its Cable/Broadband Build Project to reach the additional premises that are currently listed as not to be served on the following roads: Bashan Hill Road, Fisk Road, Parish Road, Rida Road, River Road and Sam Hill Road.
While there are 15 residences concerned, 2 of them are not currently served by any utilities at all. The Selectboard, with the advice of the Broadband Committee, Cable Advisory Committee and previous Municipal Light Plant Board, has determined that the town would not be responsible for running cable to those houses. The other 13 residences are all on public roads and have Worthington based public utility service. The cost to reach those is addressed in the Warrant Article above.
You may ask where we’re at with the Comcast build as a whole. The first step for Comcast was to apply for the space on the poles for their cables from Verizon and Eversource. That’s been done and they are now waiting for the two utilities to respond with the cost for that work. They expect to get that in May. Once they have the cost and pay the bill, Verizon and Eversource can start doing the work, called “make-ready.” That will hopefully happen over the summer.
There are 22 towns across western Mass engaged in this process right now. So Verizon and Eversource are busy and there’s a lot in line ahead of us. Hopefully in another month we will have some idea of when to expect that work to commence. After that’s done, Comcast can then come in and build their network, which should only take a few months. These things can happen simultaneously. So poles could be ready in one part of town allowing Comcast to start work while they’re still working on poles in other parts of town. Comcast will also turn people on as they go. The bottom line is that they appear to be more or less on schedule and we could start seeing service next fall or winter. Alternatively, Comcast’s agreement with the MBI requires that they be done by July 2020.
If you’re wondering whether you need to do anything now, the answer is no. Comcast will be in town well in advance to explain what’s available and in some cases, where there are long driveways or other long cable runs, to talk with each home owner individually about their situation and any possible additional costs in that regard. As a general guideline, Comcast will go 250 feet from the road and/or a cost of $1400 or less to hook you up, but each individual situation is different and will be addressed individually. That is about as much as we know right now.
I am in regular contact with Comcast and if there are questions I can answer and/or get answers to I’m happy to. I’ll continue to keep you posted.