Royalston broadband survey results generally positive​​​​​​​

  • Royalston's Broadband Committee met Monday to review a survey of those customers tied into the South Royalston wifi broadband network, a pilot program laying the groundwork for the installation of a town-wide system. Checking the results are Vice Chair Jon Hardie (left) and Chair Andy West. —Greg Vine

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 9/24/2019 9:50:12 PM
Modified: 9/24/2019 9:50:09 PM

ROYALSTON – The town’s Broadband Committee Monday night reviewed the results of a survey sent by the Selectboard to subscribers of the pilot wifi broadband system available to residents of South Royalston.

Members of the committee were, overall, cheered by the results of the survey, which sought feedback on several issues, including subscription prices, speed of connection, reliability of connection, customer service and technical support, and billing and accounting. The questionnaire also sought general comment and feedback on customers’ overall satisfaction.

Of the 39 surveys distributed by the Selectboard, 21 were returned. Customers were asked to rate each of the five categories on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “very dissatisfied” and 10 being “very satisfied.” The overwhelming majority of respondents provided scores of 6 or above in every category. Customer service and “experience with accounting and billing” stood out for the positive scores the received.

When asked to comment on their experience as Royalston Broadband Network customers, responses ranged from “very happy,” “invaluable,” and “very reliable” to “an odd experience,” “irregular notifications of billing,” and “extremely slow for the money.” Most written complaints, of the few that were received, generally centered on slow download and upload speeds and inconsistent network availability.

Overall, however, reliability and speed were rated positively.

“It’s interesting to me,” said committee Chair Andy West, “that ‘value for the price’ and ‘speed of connection’ are subjective responses, and then ‘reliability of connection’ is objective. So, results seem to be slanted favorably for value and speed; are we getting what we need and are we getting what we need for the price?”

“The Broadband Committee,” Selectboard member Deb D’Amico explained, “asked that this survey go out under the Selectboard banner. They wanted to be sure that people felt free to answer honestly without worrying about hurting the feelings of people in this group, who have worked so hard for so long.”

The Broadband Committee said it wanted to thank everyone who responded to the survey, adding that any subscriber who may have specific concerns about how the system is working should feel free to contact town administrator and committee Vice Chair Jon Hardie at 978-790-8474. The town website also provides a link to Hardie’s email address.

Hardie told the committee that information needed for selecting a vendor to install the town-wide system should be available very soon. Bids to undertake the project were submitted by three companies, but one was ruled out at an early stage. The two remaining bids are being evaluated by John Leary of Westfield Gas & Electric, who is the owner’s project manager. Bids came from BLiNQ Networks of Markham, Ontario, Canada, Telrad North America of Elanger, Kentucky, and Tilson Technology Management, with offices in Manchester, New Hampshire and Portland, Maine. Word on which two remain in the hunt has not yet been released.

Two subcommittees were established, one to assess the technical information and another to examine financial aspects of the bids. Each subcommittee will make its recommendation on who to hire based on the information received.

While most rural Massachusetts communities have opted to build a fiber optic broadband network, Royalston decided to go with a wireless system. Hardie said wifi will cost the town about $2.5 million less than a fiber optic network would have. The state has provided the town with a $1.125 million grant for the project, while the federal government is chipping in $98,000. Royalston voters have approved a $285,000 bond to cover the balance. The exact cost of the project won’t be certain until a vendor is finally chosen.

Hardie said Monday that more than 400 people have signed up for the network once it’s up and running.


Please support the Athol Daily News' COVID-19 coverage

Thank you for your support of the Athol Daily News.


E-Edition & Local Ads


Weather


athol forecast

Most Popular


Orange voters reject Prop 2½ override by seven votes

Social Media




Athol Daily News

14 Hope Street,
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Telephone: (413) 772-0261
FAX (413) 772-2906

 

Copyright © 2019 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.