High-speed internet coming to Petersham

  • Chip Bull, right, Broadband Municiple Light Plant Board Chairman

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 9/11/2019 9:46:15 PM

PETERSHAM – After nearly a decade of often frustrating effort, it looks like high-speed broadband internet service is finally coming to Petersham.

“I’ve done committee work all my life,” said Broadband Municipal Light Plant Board Chairman Chip Bull, “and usually after a year of work or so, you’ve got something to show for it. This has been a 9-year-long process; and it’s been a long process for nearly all of the 45 unserved communities in western Massachusetts that didn’t have any broadband or any cable.”

“And it’s been a long haul,” Bull continued, “trying to work things out with the state, who sometimes – I think – feels that when you get past Route 495 you’re dealing with communities that really don’t have the wherewithal to think these things through and handle them properly, which is a little aggravating and obviously not the case.”

“So, we’re finally approaching the point where we’re actually going to have true high-speed broadband available. In our case, all of the delays through that 9-year period have either been a delay on the part of the state in guaranteeing funds or, more recently, it’s been trying to get the two utilities – National Grid on the power side and Verizon on the telecommunications side – to get their make-ready work completed. Make-ready is basically just bringing the poles up to coded and allowing for space on the poles for fiber optic cable to be installed.”

Bull said National Grid completed its part of the work at the end of June. Verizon, however, has taken longer than expected to compete its portion of the project. Matrix Design Group, the company which has contracted with the town to provide broadband service, is ready to begin hanging fiber optic cable once Verizon has completed its work, which Bull hopes will be very soon.

“Matrix has already ordered 47 miles of fiber optic cable and is just waiting for the word to start,” he said.

According to Bull, 441 customers have thus far signed up as subscribers. That number represents more than three-quarters of all homes and businesses in Petersham.

Bull said one aspect of the availability of high-speed internet service to Petersham is the impact it will have on students of Petersham Center School, the local elementary school with serves approximately 120 students.

“We’ve had stories of families actually driving up to the center of town,” said Bull, “and connecting onto the wi-fi connection from the library as a faster connection in order to do school work. You’ll see somebody sitting there under the dome light of their car, trying to get their homework done and submitted. So, it’ll be a happy day when we’re finally connected.”

“Matrix’ crews are ready,” he continued, “and have been ready for months to get started. Of course, they want to try to beat the weather, so they’d like to get the center of town connected in October and November, and will probably be finishing up the far-reaches of town sometime in the spring.”

The overall cost of the bringing high-speed internet to Petersham is approximately $2.6 million.

Matrix is investing $1.75 million of that amount with the Massachusetts Broadband Institute providing a grant of $880,00.

A public information session to update residents on the project will be held Saturday, Sept. 21 at 4 p.m. at Petersham Town Hall.


E-Edition & Local Ads


Weather


athol forecast

Most Popular


Body found in town being treated as a homicide

Social Media




Athol Daily News

PO Box 1000
225 Exchange Street
Athol, MA 01331
(978) 249-3535

 

Copyright © 2019 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.