The Comcast buildout is moving along more or less on schedule. I’ve received a lot of questions about the project’s status. Here’s what I know…and don’t know.
Comcast is building an all-fiber network to our homes and businesses. That is a change from what was originally proposed, which was a hybrid network of fiber to various nodes around town and then coaxial cable (copper) to the residence. That should provide for a more resilient and future-proof network. I believe it is Comcast’s first in the region. Unlike the fiber networks being built in some of our neighboring towns like Chesterfield, Cummington and Windsor, for instance, the final connection into your house will still be coaxial. So the interior equipment (cable box, modem etc.) will be the same as Comcast uses elsewhere. For those who need greater connectivity for business, full fiber connections should be readily available, though.
The network is being built in 3 sections. The first is the south end of town from the Huntington line to just past Town Hall. That section is pretty much done. Comcast has been testing it for the past few weeks and this week they started running lines to houses. I have a box on the side of my house now. They are NOT yet turning anyone on, but that should be imminent. The second section is from the center of town to about Cold Street. The final section is from there to the Peru line and they are being built in that order. So the west end of town is just beginning to get fiber strung onto the poles.
Comcast is still saying that they plan to be done and have everyone lit up by the end of the year. It does appear that they may be a little behind of that goal, but I would guess that it might be sometime in January before they’re really done. The holdup has mostly been Verizon, which had to complete pole work before Comcast could start stringing their fiber. All the work on the poles, stringing fiber for Comcast, is actually done by independent contractors who are in pretty high demand, with fiber networks going up not only across western Mass but all over the country. So it’s a bit of a game for Comcast to book time with subcontractors only to have the dates move as other work awaits completion. Any of us that have ever worked with contractors to do building projects know how that works. All in all, things are moving along pretty close to schedule.
Things to keep in mind: The wires from the street to our homes (drops) are being installed on houses where people have spoken with a Comcast sales person and said they’d be taking service. If you have done that and received an email with a “Welcome to Comcast,” then you should be all set for that. The way their system is set up, you don’t actually make any kind of formal commitment to specific services until the signal is actually available. So if you have any intention of getting some kind of service from Comcast, I would urge you to speak with a Comcast sales person if you haven’t already. If you weren’t able to attend one of their events or didn’t get a flyer left at your door, you can call 800-581-5149.
At least for now, there is no cost for what they consider a standard installation to your house. A standard installation is a simple aerial connection from the street to the house. If your utilities are buried, there are poles on your property or other non-standard circumstances, there may be some charges. In those cases, Comcast will send someone out to assess the situation, if they haven’t already, and give you a price, if any, for the work. They are crediting people for the cost of the “basic” install. So even if you have a non-standard situation the credit may take care of it. Again, I’d urge you if you haven’t already to contact Comcast to get pricing. At some point down the road the credit for basic installs may go away.
Now, not to confuse the issue, but there is another basic installation cost that it looks like we’ll all have to pay of $79. That’s the cost for someone to come to your house and do the interior installation of whatever service you take; telephone, internet, TV or any combination. I did protest this with Comcast but unfortunately they wouldn’t waive this fee. That said, Comcast could always decide at some point to run a free installation promotion across the region, but there’s no way of knowing when or if that might happen. I wouldn’t count on it.
So that’s where we’re at. Houses on the south end of town are getting fiber termination boxes installed now and I would expect interior installations and actual service to be imminent. Next will be the center area of town which is actively being wired and lastly will be the west end of town.
I have heard from some folks having trouble getting Comcast to respond to calls and having other customer service type issues. Feel free to let me know if I can help. I do have a good corporate contact who’s been very responsive to any issues I’ve raised.