On Oct 2, 2015, the Western Mass. town of Leverett celebrated the launch of the LeverettNet municipal fiber-optic broadband network, a new infrastructure project that offers gigabit-level Internet connectivity to every home and business in the town. This high-speed broadband network allows Leverett’s residents easier access to medical information, provides local students the ability to complete online homework assignments, and delivers new opportunity to local small business owners and entrepreneurs who want to reach new customers via the web.
LeverettNet is the first ‘Last Mile’ project built off of MassBroadband 123, the 1,200 mile fiber-optic ‘Middle Mile’ network jointly funded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program. MassBroadband 123, which was completed in early 2014 connects over 1,100 public institutions in 120-plus towns in Western and Central Massachusetts, including Leverett. Recognizing the opportunity to address the digital divide in the town, Leverett’s citizens and town leaders mobilized to build off of the new fiber-optic backbone, creating the Leverett Broadband Committee and Leverett Municipal Light Plant (MLP), the entities which oversaw the approval, financing, contracting, and construction of the town-built network.
Since the start of construction, over 650 of 800 Leverett households have taken service on the network, a fact that highlights the strong demand for Internet connectivity in the town. Prior to the network’s launch, residents relied on non-broadband technologies such as dial-up, satellite, or DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) to access the Internet, but are now served by a complete fiber-optic network capable of delivering speeds of 1 gigabit per second.
Peter d’Errico of the Leverett Broadband Committee commented:
“The project has been huge for the town and mostly undertaken by our volunteer broadband committee, which met weekly for four years to make it happen. With each phase taken a step at a time we have managed to complete something we all thought was a dream when it was first conceived. Now that it’s complete, residents are thrilled to see what they can do at home on the Internet.”
At the launch event, local resident Carter Wall, a consultant in the solar industry, highlighted the impact that the new network will have on her business and her day-to-day life, a fact noted in The Daily Hampshire Gazette’s story on the launch.
The Massachusetts Broadband Institute at MassTech (MBI) awarded a total of $806,000 in Last Mile grants from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to Leverett to help fund the completion of the municipal network and to connect the town’s homes and businesses. These funds include a preliminary planning grant of $40,000 in 2011 and $766,000 in new state capital funds being invested through the Last Mile Program, which were awarded in August 2015.
The LeverettNet network was constructed by Millennium Communications Group. “Make Ready” work on the poles began in the fall of 2013. Greenfield-based Crocker Communications is the Internet Service Provider for the network, managing customer signups and market research, while network operation and maintenance will be overseen by Holyoke Gas & Electric. To learn more go to LeverettNet FAQ.
The Leverett Municipal Broadband Model, March 2016
An overview of Leverett's institutional, contractual and financial arrangements for the town's municipal network. To review the presentation go to LeverettNet.