Broadband Chesterfield Update 

We are all eager to begin using the new fiberoptic broadband network in Chesterfield! This is a short update on where we are at the moment and what to expect. Broadband Chesterfield is going to be a town-owned fiber-optic network capable of delivering the internet at speeds close to 1000 times faster than most people experience now. Just to give you an example, a two-hour movie which currently takes around 72 minutes to download using DSL would only take a mere 25 seconds with broadband!

This amazing network is going to be owned by the town of Chesterfield. That means we set the rates, and we can use the revenue - not Verizon, not Comcast or anyone else. What will this mean for most people? It means access to standard internet items like email and the web, but it will also mean that we could do video conferencing like FaceTime with friends and family around the world, and connect our medical devices to our doctor's office; it would allow people to work from home, students to complete work online or adults to engage in online learning. We could also stream video and television services like Hulu or Netflix and more without those annoying interruptions.

When will all this happen? It seems like the project has been going on forever, but the end is in sight. At the moment we are waiting on Verizon and Eversource to prepare their poles to receive the fiber cable. Once this is done, we can begin construction. Estimates at the moment are that construction should begin sometime early in 2020 and the network should be completely operational by fall 2020.

What about the cost? Since this is our network, we must take in enough revenue to make it financially sustainable in the long term. We are going to follow most of the other Hilltowns in charging $85 per month for residential internet service which will include free installation to 99% of the houses in Chesterfield as long as you sign up during the subscription period in early 2020. In addition, we are offering telephone service for $14.99 per month (plus taxes) which would allow you to keep your existing telephone number and provide unlimited local and long-distance calling throughout North America.

Some people may not be ready to take service but would still like to take advantage of the free installation available during the subscription period. You can do this using what is called a “cold drop” which means that, as long as you sign-up during the subscription period, you will receive free installation to the outside of your house. Then, when you or a future owner decide to take service, you will only have to pay for interior installation.

Even if you don’t take broadband service, the Wall Street Journal has found that property values in communities that have high-speed broadband increase between 3% and 5%.

How will our broadband network be paid for? The state has given us an $890,000 grant which has gotten us started and the rest will be covered by the tax override we authorized several years ago at Town Meeting. However, and this is important, in order for us to offer free installation, we will have to take advantage of some existing Town funds that will require a vote at Town Meeting. So, when this meeting comes around it is important that you come and vote “yes.”

Lots of people may not be current internet users or may not be comfortable using a computer. The internet is an exciting world to explore and we look forward to giving everyone the chance to jump in. So, we are going to have opportunities for people to come and learn about how to use the internet and how to hook up a computer to the new Broadband network. Stay tuned for more information on this.

Some people have asked why they should switch to broadband if they currently have DSL. The answer is very simple: DSL is much slower and may not be adequate for future internet needs and Verizon may not continue to support DSL for much longer. Moreover, installation at a future date, even with a cold drop, will cost more.

If you would like more information about broadband and want to keep up-to-date with our progress, go to the Chesterfield Town website and click on the “Broadband Project” link on the lefthand side - this will take you to our Broadband Chesterfield website. There’s lots of information about broadband and a link to allow you to ask any questions you have. We would love to hear from you, and we hope you will become a part of Broadband Chesterfield!