Mayor gives City Council update on broadband study

At the City Council meeting on February 4, 2021, Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz provided an update to the Council on the municipal network study. You can watch the mayor’s update below.

Among the mayor’s key points:

  • The mayor announced that Design Nine was selected to do a marketing survey and, if the survey results warrant it, a subsequent feasibility analysis. The feasibility study would determine the costs and issues for constructing a municipal network.
  • Residential and business surveys are nearing completion. Since a census mailing will go to every residence in the city, he’s hoping to include the municipal network survey in this mailing. This is expected by the end of February. The survey can be returned via the U.S. mail or filled out online.
  • He expects to ask the City Council for a second vote for creating a municipal light plant for the city before the end of the city’s fiscal year on June 30. After an affirmative vote by at least two-thirds of the City Council, approval to create the plant would require a vote by a majority of city voters.

This was followed by the introduction of a resolution from the City Council to oppose Comcast’s planned data caps, something we blogged about in November. The resolution unanimously passed on first reading. In the discussion we learned:

  • A number of other Massachusetts municipalities have already passed similar resolutions
  • An emergency state house bill has been filed to outlaw these data caps
  • Most households double their monthly usage every two years, mostly due to higher fidelity streaming services. This would make it difficult for most customers to avoid paying these extra fees when they exceed Comcast’s 1.2 terabyte data cap.
  • Comcast now says it will wait until July to impose these data caps

These discussions demonstrated the high interest and support for a municipal network within the City Council.

Update: the resolution opposing Comcast’s data cap was approved at the latest City Council meeting on second reading.

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