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Crocker hired for Leverett broadband, phone service

LEVERETT — Crocker Communications of Greenfield has been hired to provide high-speed Internet and telephone service for the townwide broadband network that is expected to be in service by January.

Residents can sign up now and will get priority when the network is “lit,” said Peter d’Errico, a Selectboard member and chair of the town’s broadband committee.

Signing a three-year service contract with Crocker is a key step as the project heads to the finish line, he said.

“In order to be ready when the network has been constructed and tested we have to have an ISP (Internet service provider) in place,” he said. “Our goal from the beginning has been the end of this year and we’re still aiming for that.”

Frus-trated with slow Internet and spotty telephone service, town residents approved a $3.6 million bond in 2012 to build its own fiber-to-home network. The 39-mile aerial fiber optic cable system is being constructed by Millennium Communications of New Jersey. Holyoke Gas and Electric has been contracted to run it and another firm will be hired to maintain it, d’Errico said.

Crocker will be the sole Internet service provider.

“Crocker Communication is pleased to be part of Leverett’s groundbreaking initiative,” Crocker President and CEO Matthew Crocker said in a statement. His company will be able to provide high-speed Internet access and Internet-based phone service to nearly 2,000 residents, the statement said. Once complete, Leverett’s network will connect to the Internet via the MassBroadband 123 Network owned by the Massachusetts Broadband Institute. “Leverett will be on par with the fastest networks in the world and will have the fastest residential network in Massachusetts,” according to the statement from Crocker.

D’Errico said Leverett residents’ interest in joining the network has been strong and that an informational meeting held two weeks ago at the Leverett Elementary School drew a standing-room-only crowd. Officials ran out of the 200 information and pre-subscriptions packets they had on hand to distribute, he said. The information package, however, which comprises answers to a long list of questions, including technical queries, is available on the town’s website where people can also download and print the pre-subscription form to send to Crocker with payment.

Another information session will be held at the elementary school Sept. 15, according to d’Errico. Details will be provided via a CTY phone message to residents. Many people are seeking guidance on matters such as the type of inside wiring they need, or explanations about what a Wi-Fi router or Ethernet cable is, d’Errico said. “We answer a whole range of questions at these meetings.”

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