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Update from Broadband Committee
Broadband Update
April 1, 2018

The Tolland Broadband Committee and the Board of Selectman have agreed to move forward with the Crocker – Fujitsu Plan, to design, build, own** and operate a fiber to the home network for a minimum of 96% of the Town of Tolland. The entire process to complete could take up to 18 months. The estimated cost to build road fiber only is $1,230,000.  The Crocker-Fujitsu plan was one of three offered to Tolland which were vetted by the MBI in late 2016. Tolland has done extensive review of the plans offered by Westfield G&E, Matrix Design and Crocker – Fujitsu.

The estimated costs to build the network will be partially (approximately 60%) covered by the Flexible Grant Program offered through the Massachusetts Broadband Institute. The balance (approximately 40%) is being funded through several possible options which include:

        Federal Funding via Connect America Fund (CAF II) and/or USDA. These are options and not certain.
        Additional funding from MBI-an option but not certain.
        Town Funding –The borrowing estimates for Tolland are estimated to be $400,000 which is about 25% of the original amount Tolland voted to borrow/spend. Tolland voted in 2016 to borrow/spend $1,600,000 to build a town owned and operated   a FTTH broadband network. This is spread over each individual taxpayer.

Subscriber Rates –Crocker’s current rate for internet service at a 1GB/sec, (same upload/download) with unlimited usage is $24.95 per month. Telephone service when bundled with Internet is $15/month for unlimited local and long distance. Above doesn’t include taxes. In addition to the cost of Internet and phone, network operations and maintenance cost recovery costs will apply and budgetary estimates of $71.63/month* when the towns take rate is 80%. This is based on a sliding scale based on take rate. (Rates will be higher at lower take rates).  Estimated take rates are expected to be 70-75% at startup of the network.  *Based on estimated projected operations and maintenance cost of $350,000 annually and take rate of 80%.

Connection Fee – an anticipated connection fee of $500 will include network electronics and the first 150 feet of driveway. Additional driveway length may be billed at $3.00/ft. This cost can be paid up front or over 36 months. This connection fee presumes an aerial connection. The existence of usable conduit may reduce the cost of connecting beyond 150 feet.

The next steps are to fashion an agreement with Crocker, Tolland and MBI in the next few weeks so work can begin as soon as possible. The agreement will address the following:

**The ownership of the network will be joint based on proportion of town payments. The town will negotiate a clear path to ownership of anything that is funded by MBI. This would require assurance to Crocker of a long-term tenure as the network operator and ISP.  Tolland, after a predetermined interval (based on funding sources), may desire ownership of the entire network. The town may acquire ownership of all network assets paid for (MBI) the state grant allocation and its own contribution with a buy-out due to Crocker for recovery of its capital and operational costs incurred during their tenure as owner/operator. Crocker would also have the option to buy out the Towns contribution.

Tolland has for several years been a satisfied client of Crocker Communications using its phone and internet services at Town owned buildings. Crocker works with many customers including Southwick-Tolland, Farmington River, Central Berkshire RSD and Pittsfield Public Schools. Crocker is a locally owned company with a strong partner in Fujitsu. We are looking forward to working with Crocker – Fujitsu on this long-term project.

Kevin Donovan, Chair
Tolland Broadband Committee