Broadband Committee

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: townadministrator@leverett.ma.us

You may also join a Google Groups listserv to receive occasional postings from the Committee; to start, go to:

http://groups.google.com/group/leverett-broadband-project

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:

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 Millenium 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, Millenium, 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 Millenium did meet all requirements of the Invitation for Bid and is qualified and capable to perform the work. The Committee thus determined that Millenium 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:

MBI middle mile comes to Leverett: Workers installing the MBI middle mile fiber along North Leverett Road. Officer Thomas watches over traffic and the workers. A loop of fiber on a pole awaits further connections.MBI middle mile comes to Leverett: Workers installing the MBI middle mile fiber along North Leverett Road. Officer Thomas watches over traffic and the workers. A loop of fiber on a pole awaits further connections.

4SEP2012The 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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