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Alford takes important step toward broadband access – Berkshire Eagle (subscription)

By Eoin Higgins @BE_EoinHiggins

ALFORD — The town has taken a big step toward high-speed internet service.

During a meeting of the town’s broadband cooperative on Tuesday, members completed a Readiness Assessment Form indicating the town is ready to begin construction of network infrastructure.

“It’s clear we’re on the right path,” said member Bruce Forster.

The cooperative has been working in concert with the state’s Massachusetts Broadband Institute, whose mission is to provide broadband access to the underserved areas of the state, including several Berkshire communities.

Members of the institute attended the cooperative’s meeting to provide input before members completed the form.

The cooperative has satisfied the requirements for a number of reimbursements from the state. The Readiness Assessment Form will allow the town to access the reimbursement funding provided by the state for the construction of the network.

“Alford has a plan for the installation, operation, and sustainability of the broadband system,” said cooperative Chairman Robert Lichter.

The cooperative is working on a request for proposals for construction of the network.

Alford’s independent go-it-alone approach has opened up a lot of options for construction. Forster suggested integrating a computer card system into the fiber-optic cables. This, he said, would allow for easier updating of the system as the technology evolves. Instead of changing out the cable, the town could change out the cards and redistribute the information that way.

“You’ll have the fiber for 25 years, at least,” Forster said. “It’s cheaper to change out the cards.”

A computer card system would be built into the design.

As the small town’s broadband access inches closer, there’s also the potential for untapping other flows of funding.

“I’ve picked up the sense that the door is not closed on additional money,” Lichter said. “Who knows what might emerge.”


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