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The Leverett Broadband Committee uses this website as well as the Town Newsletter and other mailings to inform residents about the fiber-optic network project. If you have questions or suggestions, please send an email to Town Administrator Margie McGinnis: firstname.lastname@example.org
You may also join a Google Groups listserv to receive occasional postings from the Committee; to start, go to:
Following the 90% approval of the project at the Annual Town Meeting on April 28, 2012, there was a debt exclusion vote on June 2, which approved the project by 83.5%. The Committee is developing Requests for Proposals (RFPs) to build the network, to provide services and operate the network, and to maintain the network infrastructure. The Committee will provide further information as the process continues.
NEWS and UPDATES:
07APR2015 - Leverett 'Last Mile' Network Begins To Go Live
House connections are now being made daily to LeverettNet, the fiber-optic high-speed broadband network being built by the Town of Leverett. The network, in its final construction phase by Millennium Communications Group, will be substantially complete by June 30, 2015. Several dozen locations in the northern part of town have already been turned over to the network Internet Services Provider (ISP), Crocker Communications, for provisioning of subscribers' Internet service. Network Operation services are provided by HG&E Telecom.
The lighting of LeverettNet marks the first 'last mile' network to connect to the Massachusetts Broadband Institute 'middle mile.' The Active Ethernet fiber-optic network design provides symmetrical (equal upload and download speeds) 1-gigabit-per-second Internet access throughout town.
The Town's initial plan was to turn on all subscriber locations at the same time; but interest from pre-subscribers was so strong that the Town's Broadband Committee arranged to offer sequential connections as individual homes are spliced into the network distribution cable. Until the network is fully built, all Internet connections are considered 'beta' sites, subject to possible momentary service interruptions while testing proceeds. When the network is fully tested and provisioned for Internet service, full-featured telephone service will be brought online and subscribers who have contracted for telephone service will have their existing phone numbers transferred to the fiber-optic system.
Leverett's fiber optic network was featured in the special White House report issued in January, 2015: "Community-Based Broadband Solutions: The Benefits of Competition and Choice for Community Development and Highspeed Internet Access." The report cited Leverett as an example of municipal innovation to meet 21st century communications needs.
LeverettNet is owned by the Town of Leverett, under the custody of the Leverett Municipal Light Plant (MLP), a governmental entity empowered by Massachusetts law to build and operate a telecommunications system. Funding for the network build was provided by a Town Meeting vote and debt-exclusion referendum in 2012 authorizing a municipal tax bond to provide a fiber-optic connection to every residence in town. Maintenance and operations costs of the network are fully funded by subscribers, at no cost to taxpayers.
Subscribers are billed monthly for ISP Internet and telephone services, plus a charge by the Leverett MLP for network operations and maintenance. Stand-alone Internet service costs $24.95/month, stand-alone telephone $29.95/month, and a bundled price for both services of $44.95/month. The total monthly cost for a subscriber with both Internet and telephone is $94.90, including the MLP cost.
The monthly MLP cost of $49.95/month represents the annual cost of operations and maintenance divided by the number of subscribers. The monthly MLP cost will decrease as more subscribers are added. ISP costs are guaranteed to remain the same for at least the next three years, under a contract between the ISP and the MLP.
There are currently more than 600 subscribers to LeverettNet. This amounts to 70% of all potential subscribers. Pre-subscription experience for other networks in the U.S. rarely reaches this level, which points to the exceptional value of LeverettNet as well as a measure of the needs it will fulfill.
28FEB2015 - The Leverett Broadband Committee is pleased to announce that the network builder, Millennium Communications Group, has agreed in writing to the following dates for completion of the network:
01 May 2015 - Part of the network will be lit. This means that some Leverett residents will be online with active service by May 1st.
30 June 2015 - Substantial completion of the network will be achieved, with only "punch list" items remaining.
01 August 2015 - Final completion of the network will be achieved.
Millennium has also agreed that the project will be completed without any additional charges. This means that the funds approved by Leverett residents at the debt exclusion vote in 2013 will be sufficient to complete the network construction.
Finally, a milestone was achieved this week when the Town's project manager, Tim Haas, reported the lighting of the network at the Point of Presence (POP) buildings. This means the Network Operator — Holyoke Gas & Electric (HG&E) — can now "see" the network access equipment and that network engineers working in and through the POPs are connected to the Internet and to each other as they provision the equipment and test circuits.
Here is a photo inside the POP at the Public Safety Complex:
Stay tuned for more updates as progress picks up with the warming weather.
23JAN2015 - Work continues throughout Leverett on the 'last mile' fiber optic broadband network. Due to vagaries of the construction process, the planned completion by the end of 2014 was not achieved. We regret this delay.
The Town is working with the contractor, Millennium Communications Group, to complete the network build in a timely manner. Our joint goal is to begin lighting portions of the network in April 2015, as final connections are made and tested. You will see workers completing the remaining work on the build and running tests.
HG&E, the Network Operator, and Crocker Communications, the Internet Service Provider, have coordinated their roles and are prepared to provision subscriber services as the network comes online.
The Leverett network—a Fiber-to-the-Home 'Active Ethernet' system—is designed for state-of-the-art Internet access and telephone service throughout Town. Leverett's project has attracted national (and even international) attention. It is featured in the January 2015 White House Report on Broadband, from the Executive Office of the President.
Leverettnet subscription costs are among the lowest anywhere for equivalent service. Pre-subscribers have already paid—in two parts—their bill for the first month's service (which includes a second month of service free) and network operation (the Municipal Light Plant). Subscribers will not be billed again until they are receiving services.
We look forward to a speedy conclusion to the build and a successful testing, followed by lighting the network and providing service. We will keep you informed. Residents with questions about their home’s installation can contact Millennium directly at email@example.com.
General questions are always welcome at the Town Hall by calling 413-548-9699.
04DEC2014 - As the end of the planned fiber network construction period approaches, the construction contractor, Millennium Communications, has picked up the pace of progress. Recently, work by Millennium and their sub-contractors has been visible all over town on weekends as well as weekdays. As of Dec. 4, 2014, Millennium reports 70% of construction is complete. Despite the flurry of activity, weather and other delays seem likely to push the completion date into the new year.
Once construction is complete, the Network Operator and ISP have to engage in rigorous testing alongside the build contractor. Every single fiber running from the homes of Leverett residents to the newly constructed Point-Of-Presence buildings at the Public Safety Complex and N. Leverett Fire Station must be tested. Depending on how many errors are found during the testing, it could take a few months to get everything working and approved. A definite deadline can’t be predicted but the broadband committee can promise that the network will be fully functioning before it is accepted as complete. It is expected that segments of the network will be activated as they are tested and accepted by the Network Operator, ISP, and Broadband Committee.
04SEP2014 - Tim Haas, the town's fiber construction project manager, has prepared a display (pictured below) of the key network components for a typical home installation. This will be on display at the next public information meeting scheduled for 7:00pm 15SEP2014 at Leverett Elementary School. Plan to come to the meeting to get your questions answered and pre-subscribe for service.
26AUG2014 - The first of several public information sessions about pre-subscribing for services on the Leverett broadband network was held to a standing-only crowd at the elementary school on August 21. Further meetings will be announced. A packet with information about many aspects of the fiber optic network was distributed at the meeting. The packet is also available at Town Hall and the Library. Pre-subscribtion is available until 31 October 2014. Pre-subscribers must print, complete, and sign the form and mail it with a check to Crocker Communications at the address provided. Pre-subscribers to telephone service must also print, complete, and sign the Letter of Authorization and mail it to Crocker. PRE-SUBSCRIPTION FORMS AND THE TELEPHONE LETTER OF AUTHORIZATION ARE PROVIDED FROM THE PACKET TABLE OF CONTENTS.
29JUL2014 - Construction of the fiber network is in full swing. There is some very tangible evidence of the work appearing all over town. Spools of fiber, conduit, and related installation equipment began to appear in the staging area by the transfer station in May. In early June, Optical Network Terminals (ONTs) began installation on homes along Long Plain Road and continue throughout town.
This included installation of fiber cable from poles at the roadside to houses. At the same time, crews from WMECO and Verizon have been upgrading poles all around town to accommodate the new fiber that will soon be hung. Also, construction crews have broken ground on two new utility buildings which will house the networking equipment where all the fibers from Leverett homes will be aggregated and make the connection to the MBI middle-mile fiber which was installed in May.
All in all, activities related to the fiber project are numerous and quite visible lately. This should continue through the end of the year.
23MAR2014 - Despite the long winter, the Leverett Fiber to the Home (FTTH) project continues moving forward. While it may not appear there is much action, rest assured the project is progressing in a positive and exciting manner. Things are taking a bit longer than anticipated because of the unexpected amount of time required by the utility companies to prepare the poles. The Broadband Committee believes the network is on schedule to be completed by end of this year, 2014, for broadband Internet access and landline telephone service. We fully expect network construction will begin in the April/May timeframe.
The primary reason for this communication is to inform you that now is the time to be planning for the network to be installed at your home. There are things that you, the homeowner, can do to prepare your premise(s) and dwelling(s) for the new broadband fiber installation.
A new web page has been added to this website with guidelines for homeowners on how to prepare for the fiber network deployment. The page is titled, Leverett FTTH Homeowner Preparation Information. We encourage all Leverett residents to review the information today and begin preparing for the fiber installation at their homes and businesses.
01NOV2013 - Progress continues on schedule with the preparations needed to begin construction of the fiber network in Leverett. Representatives of the town Broadband Committee, construction contractor Millennium Communications, and hardware supplier Calix were on hand to answer questions of Leverett residents at the Harvest Festival on October 18th. If you weren't able to attend the festival, the list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) has been posted to the Leverett website here: http://leverett.ma.us/content/leverett-broadband-frequently-asked-questions
15JUL2013 - On June 20, 2013, the Leverett Broadband Committee recommended to the SelectBoard that Millennium Communications Group be awarded the contract to build and maintain a fiber optic network as specified in the second Invitation For Bids (IFB) issued by the town on May 15, 2013. The SelectBoard approved the recommendation unanimously.
The Town received 8 IFB responses by the June 6 deadline. The Committee proceeded to review the bids as it did for the first IFB in accordance with Massachusetts law: MGL c.30, s.39M, as amended.
The Committee started with the lowest bid and reviewed it in accordance with the statute. After careful review by all committee members, the lowest bidder, Millennium, was invited to Leverett on June 13 to answer a series of questions asking to clarify some aspects of their bid package. Afterwards, the committee deliberated and determined that Millennium did meet all requirements of the Invitation for Bid and is qualified and capable to perform the work. The Committee thus determined that Millennium submitted the lowest bid that met the requirements for a responsible and eligible bidder. The bid amount is $2,275,731.
As Leverett makes progress with it's last-mile project, the Massachusetts Broadband Institute continues to do the same with the middle-mile. This is the connection underserved towns like Leverett will rely on to connect their local network to the internet. The fiber we've seen going up on Leverett utility poles in the past 6 months was installed by MBI. We will connect our own local network to the MBI fiber when construction in Leverett is complete at the end of 2014. It's an important piece that must be in place when the Leverett network is ready and we're happy to see that MBI is keeping to its schedule.
The award of the construction contract marks a significant milestone in the Leverett Broadband project. Preparatory activity to construction is expected to start immediately, with completion and activation of the fiber network by the end of 2014.
24MAY2013 - The Town of Leverett and the Leverett Municipal Light Plant have selected Tim Haas, Senior Network Engineer in the Telecom Division of Holyoke Gas & Electric, as project manager for construction of the Leverett fiber optic network.
Mr. Haas, a lifelong resident of western Massachusetts, brings 23 years of telecommunications and networking experience to the Leverett project. His resume includes management and supervision of engineers, administrators, analysts and technicians in support of public utility networks, municipal networks, public safety networks, public education networks and commercial high-speed network service offerings within the Massachusetts cities of Holyoke, Chicopee, and Springfield, and throughout the Pioneer Valley. His experience includes analysis, design, engineering, budgeting, implementation, debugging, maintenance and monitoring of networks, systems and applications using optical fiber, optical switching, Ethernet, wireless, IP and TDM technologies.
Leverett is pleased to have Tim as Project Manager in its effort to deliver robust, secure, reliable Internet services and the best possible user experience. The Leverett fiber-to-the-home network will bring high-speed, symmetrical broadband access to every home in town. Leverett’s aim is to complete the project by the end of 2014.
30APR2013 - Selectboard member and Chair of Leverett's Broadband Committee, Peter d'Errico, appeared recently on the MBI cable show, 'Connecting Commonwealth Communities through Broadband.' Peter spoke about Leverett's progress with its fiber network project. Click this link to watch the show.
18APR2013 - The Leverett Broadband project met with two unexpected twists in the road recently.
On March 15th, the Deval Patrick administration announced the inclusion of $40 million in a bond authorization to support the fiber optic wiring of underserved communities for the "last mile." The Leverett Broadband project is a last-mile project. This raises the possibility of another partial funding source for the Leverett Broadband project. Many details must still be worked out. The Leverett Broadband Committee has already heard from MBI about various possible scenarios for distribution of the funds. The broadband committee is studying these possibilities.
On April 4th, the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office declared that the Bid Form attached to Leverett's Invitation for Bids for network construction was inconsistent with the purpose of Chapter 30 bidding rules. This had the effect of making all bids received invalid, thus nullifying the award of the construction contract to G4S. This setback is not a major hurdle in the larger project context. The committee will take the opportunity to review all its options for constructing the network and move forward with construction plans.
The Broadband committee has completed most of the make-ready applications for the utility poles in town. Make-ready work is expected to require the most time of any single construction project task. Submission of the pole applications is an important project milestone in keeping to the timeline of completing the fiber network by the end of 2014. The remaining applications will be submitted by the end of April.
7MAR2013 - On March 5, 2013, the Leverett Broadband Committee recommended to the SelectBoard that G4S be awarded the contract to build and maintain a fiber optic network as specified in the Information For Bid (IFB) issued by the town on January 16, 2013. The SelectBoard approved the recommendation unanimously.
The Town received 8 IFB responses by the February 22 deadline. The Committee proceeded to review the bids under Massachusetts law: MGL c.30, s.39M, as amended. The statute requires the town to award the contract to the "lowest responsible and eligible bidder," defined as "the bidder whose bid is the lowest of those bidders who, in the opinion of the Town, is ready, willing and able to comply with all requirements of the Invitation for Bid and demonstrably possesses the skill, ability and integrity necessary for the faithful performance of the work based on the determination of past performance and financial soundness."
The Committee started with the lowest bid and reviewed each bid in accordance with the statute. The first and second bids were both found to be incomplete in several respects. Most significant were the failure of these two bidders to supply past performance qualification documentation as required by the Invitation for Bid. The Committee found that the third lowest bidder did meet all requirements of the Invitation for Bid and the required documentation demonstrated the company's past performance and financial soundness. The Committee thus determined that G4S submitted the lowest bid that met the requirements for a responsible and eligible bidder. The bid amount was $2,751,261.05.
Town Administrator Margie McGinnis conferred with the Massachusetts Attorney General's office during the Committee review process to assure that the Committee was proceeding correctly and that their determinations were legal under the bid statute. She was assured on all points.
Ms. McGinnis also checked with G4S references from prior projects. She heard glowing, positive references. Each said they would hire G4S again. Each said projects were on time and on budget. One said they cut the construction timeframe down from 2 years to 1.5 years and G4S still met the deadline because they have a large company and lots of resources. This factor was brought up by another reference, who noted that G4S can shore up a project with big resources. One reference emphasized that G4S understands rural communities; their network had only 5 houses per mile in some areas. Another reference said he works with 70 companies and G4S is one of the best.
The award of the construction contract marks a significant milestone in the Leverett Broadband project. Preparatory activity to construction is expected to start in April 2013 with completion and activation of the fiber network by the end of 2014.
7FEB2013 - Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) and Axia, the network operator of the MBI "middle mile," released a video presentation on YouTube at the end of January. The video includes Judy Dumont, MBI Director, and Tim Scott, Axia Vice President, along with Linda Dunlavy, Director of the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG), with the latest news about the schedule for lighting-up the middle mile connections to community anchor institutions. The schedule calls for the middle mile in Leverett to be up in July 2013. Watch the video at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6Oqen3069k&feature=youtu.be
The FRCOG also released a guide: Innovative Uses of Broadband in Your Community, to show how high-speed symetrical bandwidth can provide new tools and programs for local government, schools, libraries, health care, and other community functions. The guide is available as a PDF file.
20JAN2013 - The Leverett Broadband Committee is excited to announce that the Invitation For Bid (IFB) for the construction and first year's maintenance of the town's fiber-to-the-home network was issued Jan. 16, 2013. The deadline for responses is Friday, Feb. 22, 2013.
Issuance of the IFB is the culmination of more than 6 months work by the 7 member committee. The town expects to award the contract by the end of March 2013. The IFB specifies that the completed and tested network will be operational by the end of 2014.
The committee continues work on two related contracts expected to be issued in the next few months: Construction Manager and Service Provider/Network Operator.
27OCT2012 - A Homeowners Easement and Right of Access form will be enclosed with Leverett property tax bills in the next couple weeks. This form is comparable to what is used by electric utilities. It will allow the Leverett Municipal Light Plant (created by Town Meeting to develop the broadband network) to install a fiber line and optical network terminal on the premises to connect to the broadband network. Only the property owner has authority to sign this form. The form is enclosed with the tax bill to be saure it reaches the property owner and to provide easy reference to parcel map and lot numbers (included on the tax bill). The form is also available online as a PDF document that you can print and return to the address provided on the form.
16OCT2012 - Thirteen firms responded to Leverett's Request for Information. These responses are available online here.
7SEP2012 - MBI Middle Mile comes to Leverett! Here are some photos:
4SEP2012 - The Broadband Committee has issued a REQUEST FOR INFORMATION to guide the creation of RFPs to build, operate, and service the high speed fiber optic local network. This RFI process will help identify potential partners and interested parties. Conference call for interested parties: September 7, 2012; 2pm ET; Written questions due to Leverett: September 14, 2012; 5pm ET; Responses to questions to respondents: September 21, 2012; RFIs due from respondents: September 28, 2012; 5pm ET. The complete RFI document is at http://leverett.ma.us/FTTHRFI
17AUG2012 - Wired West, the municipal cooperative of Western Massachusetts towns created to provide fiber optic internet access, recently announced a pre-subscription campaign to demonstrate local demand for broadband service. The town of Leverett joined Wired West in 2011 while the town was assessing it's options to bring broadband service to town. Since then, Leverett has embarked on its own self-funded broadband initiative independent of Wired West. The Wired West pre-subscription campaign is unrelated to the Leverett broadband project and pre-subscription by Leverett residents has no bearing on the Leverett project.
11AUG2012 - The Leverett Broadband Committee is finalizing a Statement of Work for services to be provided by Communications Media Advisors (CMA) of Boston. CMA will act as a consultant in the preparation of a Request for Information (RFI) to be issued by Leverett soliciting information and feedback related to the town's broadband project. Information gathered from RFI responses will be used by the broadband committee to expand the project concepts into detailed plans for construction, maintenance, and operation of the fiber network.
The RFI information will also be critical to prepare Requests for Proposal (RFPs) soliciting bids to perform the work. Responses to the RFI are expected to be received in the next 4-5 weeks. Award of the first contract for construction is expected within 6 months with other contract awards for operation and maintenance to follow soon after.
05AUG2012 - On July 26th, the broadband committee received the final design schematics from G4S, the fiber optic network design contractor hired in December 2011. This was the final deliverable on the $40K design project and the committee is very happy with the final product. The design schematics will be a critical tool for the construction contractor - to be hired later this year - in the building of Leverett's new fiber optic network.
Also, on July 31st, members of the broadband committee met with the state agency which is funding the middle-mile fiber network, the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI). The MBI also awarded the grant which Leverett used to fund the network design recently completed by G4S. The broadband committee members made the same presentation that was made to Leverett residents at town meeting in April, 2012. The MBI was very pleased with Leverett's progress and vision for a community-owned fiber optic network.
The Middle Mile
As you are aware the Massachusetts Broadband Institute is progressing quickly building a 1300 mile fiber optic network in western and north central Massachusetts. This network is going through 123 communities and will greatly affect schools, libraries, town halls, medical facilities, public safety, private businesses and residents alike. All information regarding the build and the status can be found at http://www.axiamassbroadband123.com/
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