Hawley wants WiValley wireless broadband

Recorder Staff
Published: 2/26/2018 5:32:50 PM

HAWLEY — Selectmen and the town’s Communications Committee have chosen WiValley of Keene, N.H., to build a wireless broadband network, bringing high-speed internet to this steep and hilly town of roughly 340 people.

The Communications Committee recommended WiValley for several reasons, according to its chairman, Kirby “Lark” Thwing.

“It would be broadband for everybody — not just select areas,” he said. “There would be no additional town tax dollars needed. And it needs to be fast enough to meet the needs of most citizens.

“We needed a no-additional cost for (broadband) hook-ups,” he continued, “and a reasonable monthly rate residents could afford.”

Thwing said a proposal from Crocker Communications would have provided fiber optic broadband for roughly 60 percent of the town, a connection fee for each home to be served, and a monthly fee of $105 per month, plus phone.

By comparison, the monthly fee from WiValley for download and upload speed will be $59.95 per month for a slower bandwidth of 12/2 megabits per second (mbps) or $69.95 for a faster speed of 25/5 mbps.

WiValley’s proposal is to build a regional hybrid network of wireless broadband with fiber used in the more densely populated areas. The towns for which a regional network was proposed include the Berkshire Mountains towns of Hawley, Savoy, Florida and Monroe.

Thwing said he has been told that Savoy has chosen WiValley and that Florida is considering WiValley, following presentations from both Matrix and WiValley last week.

Monroe Town Clerk Marcella Stafford Gore said Monroe is to meet with broadband representatives next week.

About two years ago, when Hawley was talking to WiValley about a single-town broadband network, the monthly subscriber rate was estimated at about $120 per month, because of operation expenses for such a small population.

“We knew that wouldn’t fly for Hawley,” Thwing said. “When WiValley came in last year, in response to the MBI flexible grant program, it became obvious to us that, with multiple towns, we would raise the subscriber base, but not appreciably the cost to run it.”

He said there isn’t a large enough population concentration in Hawley for a fiber optic center, but the MBI broadband grant money set aside for Hawley — $520,000 — would be sufficient for the wireless build-out to the town.

“We are starting to do the due diligence with WiValley,” said Thwing. “Once we know who will be in a WiValley Regional Network, things will really start to move.”

He said the town hopes to have a final design by June.

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