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Massachusetts Municipal Association gives Innovation Award to Leverett for fiber-optic service

Last modified: Friday, February 12, 2016

LEVERETT — With its 1-gigabit-per-second, fiber-optic LeverettNet up and running as other towns struggle to build their last-mile connections, Leverett has received recognition from the Massachusetts Municipal Association with its Innovation Award.

“In the past, it wouldn’t be an uncommon sight to find a high school student sitting in the backseat of a car doing homework, with a parent in the front seat, parked outside the Leverett Public Library,” the association’s newsletter said in its recognition of Leverett. More than 80 percent of the town now receives the high-speed service.

“The project, the first of its kind in western and central Massachusetts, has earned recognition from the White House and the U.S. State Department as an example of municipal innovation,” the Massachusetts Municipal Association noted. It pointed out that the $3.6 million project provides high-speed Internet access throughout town, along with telephone service, for $95 per month — including a $44 charge by the Leverett Municipal Light Plant for operation and maintenance of the network.

Before LeverettNet, about one-third of Internet subscribers paid $90 a month for satellite service, a few had access to DSL and about 10 percent of people waited for dial-up connections.

Select Board member Peter d’Errico said the town’s 80 percent “take” rate for the service is far better than the industry standard of about 65 percent after three years of service that was quoted when Leverett considered starting up its operation.

The Massachusetts Municipal Association recognition comes one week after the Baker administration told the state agency overseeing the multimillion-dollar build-out of “last-mile” broadband for 44 unserved and partially served towns to hold off on spending any of the $50 million budgeted for broadband it reviews the project and how it fits into its spending budget.

“I think that’s a sign that any last-mile build-outs will be successful because the demand in these rural areas is completely unserved. We’re not talking about a place that was fairly saturated with decent-speed service,” d’Errico added. “We had ‘no speed.’ ”

He told the Massachusetts Municipal Association, “My sense is that’s going to be typical of any of the western Massachusetts towns connected. We have a population that is definitely waiting, champing at the bit for broadband.”


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