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Working to Build the Connection
Like many towns in the western part of Massachusetts, Petersham, through its appointed Broadband Committee, is working hard to find sustainable and cost-effective ways to provide modern Internet access to its citizens and businesses.
Petersham’s civic institutions are already connected to what is known as the MassBroadband123 “Middle-Mile Network” implemented by the Commonwealth; now the focus is to extend the same high-quality connection to the “Last-Mile” — that is to the homes and businesses of the community.
High Speed Access Today and Tomorrow
There is general agreement that reliable, high speed broadband internet has become a fundamental need just as electric and telephone service; its not a luxury.
Having broadband internet access is necessary for:
- Preserving real estate values and building the tax base
- Working from home for all types of businesses
- Educational opportunities for the youngest to the oldest student
- Access to news, books and online databases
- Healthcare networks and tele-medicine capabilities
- Civic alerts and notifications
- Online banking, shopping and business
- Online news and media (newspapers, magazines, broadcasts, blogs, etc.)
- Online entertainment (Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc.)
- Online gaming (Xbox, Playstation, Wii, etc.)
- Access to social media and community (Facebook, InstaGram, Twitter, etc.)
What we have, Where We are Going
Petersham is defined by the Commonwealth as an “unserved” community because there is no cable service or broadband service that operates here. Currently the only options for internet access are Verizon DSL, satellite service, dial-up modems and spotty access via cellular systems. In today’s world of need and technology these options no longer qualify as viable, long term solutions.
More importantly, Verizon is no longer even connecting new subscribers to their Petersham DSL network and homeowners who let their subscription lapse lose the DSL option permanently. The newer you, or your neighbors, are in town the more likely it is that you will not have DSL service. The Broadband Committee is now hearing meaningful, real life stories on a regular basis about families and businesses negatively impacted by lack of reliable high speed service. This issue is hitting newcomers to Petersham the hardest, regardless of their geographic location in town.
In the end, none of the technologies currently available are truly future-proof and none of them can be classified as broadband using the federal FCC definition of the term. Each of these technologies also have their unique problems that make them unfavourable as long-term, sustainable solutions for Petersham.
– DSL speed is fundamentally limited by the physics of copper telephone wire and even now the network electronics at the local Verizon Central Office on East Street are aging and degrading.
Verizon has been publicly open about their plans to not implement upgrades to DSL.
– Satellite Internet is notorious for its slow speed and high network delays which make it unreliable for anything more than simple web browsing. Satellite Internet also has an infamous tendency to fail when it rains.
– Cellular-based Internet may eventually improve in the region but given the population-density and the wooded landscape it is likely that there will never be enough cellular coverage to make fast internet uniformly available in town. There are many locations in Petersham where one cannot even make a cell-phone call, never mind establish an internet connection.
Positively Moving Petersham Forward
To find a way forward the Petersham Broadband Committee has been working diligently for the past six years to develop a workable plan for the town’s Last-Mile connectivity. In those six years, the Committee has heard increasingly growing interest – that is, demand – from residents and businesses to find a solution.
The good news is that there is now a complete proposal in hand for building a smart, state-of-the-art, fiberoptic network in Petersham that will allow homes and businesses to make true high speed connection at reasonable fees.
This website is designed to keep the community informed and up-to-date on all aspects of this proposed plan. We hope you follow along, check this site regularly as the process unfolds, and reach out to the Broadband Committee at any time with your questions.
Broadband Committee contact: firstname.lastname@example.org .