Greenfield internet service rolling out

  • KELLEY

Recorder Staff
Published: 8/25/2017 11:10:09 PM

GREENFIELD — Two months after its initial rollout in the Hope and James streets area, Greenfield’s new internet provider is beginning to make service available in other parts of downtown.

Greenfield Community Energy and Technology — the town’s semi-independent municipal broadband provider — has begun to hook up areas of High Street, north to Beacon Street, and down Davis Street. From there, General Manager Daniel Kelley said Friday, GCET will move into the area between Davis and Federal streets.

Established last summer, the entity promises faster internet speeds and lower prices than commercial competitors.

“Up until about three weeks ago, we were focused only on (the Hope Street) area, so the progress you see now that we’re making in this area has happened over a period of three weeks,” Kelley said. “Then what we’ll do is start making our way over here to the west.”

GCET has been hanging fiber optic cables on utility poles across town and installing 300 access nodes that will bathe Greenfield in a Wi-Fi network. Instead of running fiber directly to homes and businesses from the poles — which has been the traditional “fiber to the premises” model — the access nodes will send a secure signal to special receivers on customers’ buildings.

Since the initial rollout on Hope Street, Kelley said, GCET has focused on powering about five nodes a day.

“If you do five a day, you’re getting a neighborhood — it’s a substantial area,” he said. “So we’re focused on that daily.”

Anyone interested in getting GCET for their home can call up and leave a $45 deposit. Those advance signups are all mapped, which allows the provider to see where demand for service is. Right now, Kelley said that demand fairly evenly scattered throughout town.

He said the Hope Street area started out with 11 advance signups and now has more than 50 customers.

“We’re very pleased. The community support we’re getting is phenomenal,” he said.

Kelley declined to say how many total customers have signed up for GCET, as that information could be valuable to competitors, but he said the organization has reached 74 percent of its goal for signups by this point. He said GCET has an “aggressive” goal of getting the entire town lit up by the end of the year.

Next week, an interactive map will be available on GCET’s website that shows access nodes throughout town, homes that are lit up, wireless coverage area and more.

GCET’s main point of presence is housed in Town Hall, and the provider is in the midst of building two other “brain centers” — one near Turners Falls Road, and another at the High School — forming a triangle.

Once complete, those points will open up the northern part of Greenfield. But Kelley said that is GCET’s second priority right now.

“We still have the northern part of the city to get to, but as a not-for-profit you can appreciate that we have to bring customers on to feed the operating expenses, so we’re concentrating right now on the build-out of the core network,” he said.

Kelley said GCET is also being used as a case study by two of its vendors — Carousel Industries and Ruckus Wireless.

“This is a whole new way of delivering gigabit speeds to the homes and businesses,” he said. “The traditional fiber to the home model, it’s a good one, but ours is different because over 50 percent of all traffic on the internet is mobile, so sitting in the home, not too many people do that anymore, so we had to do a combination of mobile and fixed. That’s never been done on a carrier grade before.”

For more information about GCET, including rates and packages, visit gcet.net.


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