The Wendell Broadband Committee Mission
To facilitate the acquisition and installation of a high-speed Broadband network in Wendell by:
- Continuing to work towards bringing internet and technology to the entire town with an emphasis on high speed access to our schools, library, town hall, police and fire departments, small businesses, homebound residents, disabled residents, and seniors;
- Continuing to analyze costs and financial options (whether in committee or by acquiring consult) to assure fiscal responsibility during construction and operation of upcoming network;
- Working closely with Wendell's Select Board, who is the current acting Board for "Wired Wendell", our Municipal Light Plant (MLP), making recommendations to the Board (MLB) as necessary and appropriate;
- Finding solutions that will best protect the rural character and pristine natural resources of our community;
- Finding solutions that support a local economy, local control, affordable and sustainable options to subscribers, and bring fiscally responsible and sustainable options for the town with regards to our Municipal Light Plant;
- Consulting with, and working closely with our neighboring towns of Shutesbury, Leverett and New Salem; and
- Working closely with EOHED, Westfield Gas & Electric, and Whip City Fiber, to assure that Wendell’s best interests are being served during the design, make-ready, light-up, and operation phases of the network.
The Wendell Broadband Committee aims to create a town-owned fiber-optic network making high-speed Internet available to every Wendell residence and business. After many years of hard work, we are now underway. The current goal of operational service is January 2020.
The Broadband Committee oversees both the construction and operations side of the project, alongside the MLB/Selectboard and Finance Committee. We are researching and looking toward managing the MLP in the best interest of the town which currently includes electing or appointing a separate municipal light board to run the MLP separate from the town and utilizing an MLP Enterprise Fund which remains part of town accounts. We continue to watch the developing discussions from legal and financial professionals in the private sector and within state agencies as new laws and policies define, for the first time, the management of an internet-only utility.
Wendell has contracted with Westfield Gas and Electric (WG&E), a 118-year-old municipal utility, to design, engineer, and construct our network. We are also moving forward to contract with WG&E/Whip City Fiber to be our network operator (NO) and Internet Service Provider (ISP) As a municipal light plant, WG&E/WCF prioritizes bringing high-quality service at the lowest possible cost. Through WG&E, Whip City Fiber has completed a construction design and our "make-ready" preliminary work has begun (Spring 2019).
We encourage you to come to any and all meetings to learn more or email the committee: broadbandcommittee.wendellmass.us. Our goad is to help all residents understand the details, feasibility, and impact of this exciting project.
Read more: Joint Broadband Committee 2018 Spring Update
Â Progress on the Wendell Broadband project is picking up speed. Since our winter update, we have passed several important design milestones and become aware of new potential sources of funding. A number of aspects of the project remain to be finalized, but at this point we have a clear idea of what information is needed in order to do so. Current projections show the network going live in September 2019.
Read more: Jan 2018 Update from the Joint Broadband Committees
A number of important pieces of the broadband project have fallen into place since our last newsletter update. On the construction side, we are now solidly into the design process with our partner Westfield Gas and Electric (WGE). A big piece of the operations puzzle fell into place with the Selectboard signing a MoU (memorandum of understanding) with WiredWest to negotiate a contract for their services to manage the network, once it has been built.
The Wendell Broadband Committee is committed to working with MBI on make ready and design work. We are also equally committed to work with WiredWest on implementation of a regional network, while continuing to vet other available network options.
We encourage all parties to be flexible in working together to bring broadband to Wendell and all of Western Massachusetts.