Tim Wilkerson: Reliable broadband already available in Northampton

Published: 11/1/2021 4:28:23 PM
Reliable broadband already available in Northampton

High-speed internet for school, work and connecting with loved ones is more important now than ever, and it is paramount that every Northampton resident have access to secure, reliable broadband — as they do today through existing providers.

Before Northampton voters head to the polls to decide the future of government-owned and controlled broadband by a municipal electric division, it should be noted there’s much more to operating a fast, reliable network than just putting fiber in the ground. Network demands are constantly changing and require evolving cybersecurity protection. New network entrants who don’t have a plan or resources to support ongoing network innovation and protection may put customers who rely on them at unnecessary risk.

Local governments just don’t have the resources to match this level of support. The residents of Concord saw this firsthand when the city’s government-owned provider suspended installations, refusing to connect any new customers for the first seven months of the pandemic. Now, some community leaders are asking Northampton voters to back this same model, but wouldn’t it be better to dedicate resources for green spaces, schools, roads and bridges or other priorities rather than borrowing more or raising taxes?

Also, it is worth reviewing the options already available. Residents can access broadband from numerous private providers that offer a variety of speeds up to 2 gigabits for residents; up to 10 gigabits for small/medium-sized businesses; and up to 100 gigabits for enterprises.

Broadband providers have invested to ensure communities get and stay connected. Collectively, they offer low-cost broadband for eligible low-income individuals, with access to thousands of Wi-Fi hotspots, and participate in the federal government’s Emergency Broadband Benefit program providing temporary credits on internet bills.

The best way to ensure that Northampton continues to benefit from robust internet service is through proven solutions like our state’s groundbreaking public-private partnerships. Working together, Northampton can continue to benefit from the millions of dollars invested annually by private broadband providers who deliver the fastest, most secure internet, even amid challenges like the historic pandemic traffic surge, without taking on their own debt.

Tim Wilkerson

President and CEO
New England Cable and

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