The residents of Charlemont town have voted for own fiber-optic network, rejecting an offer from Comcast to build, own and transfer a fiber network. Fifty-six percent of the residents voted in favor of the town building its own network rather than depending on Comcast. The offer from Comcast to the town authorities was to bring high-speed internet to up to 96 percent of households in Charlemont.
Claremont needed to pay an amount of US$462,123 plus interest toward infrastructure costs over 15 years. Some of the decision makers were thinking to get back the cost by increasing the property tax. Majority of the residents have rejected this idea.
Claremont, the Massachusetts town has 1300 residents over a stretch of 26 square miles. Reports indicate that the Comcast proposal would have saved the town about US$1 million, but it would not be a town-owned broadband network. The defeated measure means that Charlemont will likely go forward with a $1.4 million municipal town network.
Charlemont Town officials estimate that the construction of a fiber optic network that would cover 100 percent of the homes would cost $1,466,972 as initial capital and additional interest payment for over 20 years. An increase in property taxes would cover the construction cost. But the town would also bring in revenue from selling broadband service and potentially break even, making the project less expensive than Comcast’s offer.
A recorded article revealed that with 59 percent of households signing up for the broadband service, the tax hike would be 29 cents, similar to that for Comcast. A 72 percent or more of households subscription to the fiber optic network will yield zero tax hike.
Currently, Comcast covers about 9.5 percent of Charlemont, while Verizon DSL is available in about 88 percent. The town plans to charge US$79 a month for the standalone Internet service with gigabit download and upload speeds and no data caps. The price could rise to US$99 a month if fewer than 40 percent of households subscribe to the service. The town also plans to offer phone and TV service at rates cheaper than that of the Comcast.