Broadband study released by city

From the mayor’s office today:

NORTHAMPTON – Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra has released the Broadband Feasibility Study, prepared by Design Nine, Inc. A presentation and community discussion of the findings are scheduled for Wednesday, September 20, 2023, at 6:30 p.m. The community forum will take place in the City Council Chambers, 212 Main Street, and will also be accessible via Zoom at

“We’ve received the feasibility report and analyzed the data, providing us with a clearer roadmap for exploring municipal broadband. There’s much to consider regarding our next steps,” shared Mayor Sciarra. “I look forward to engaging with the community in a substantive dialogue about the possibilities and challenges of building municipal broadband in Northampton. The conversation begins next Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.”

The publication of this report marks a significant milestone in our ongoing inquiry into municipal broadband, initiated in the summer of 2016. At that time, the City of Northampton engaged Percipio Industries, LLC, to evaluate the city’s existing fiber network for possible expansion. Following Percipio’s recommendation to conduct further study, the city allocated $70,000 over two years for professional market and technical feasibility studies, as outlined in former Mayor Narkewicz’s FY2020-FY2024 Capital Improvement Program.

In 2020, Design Nine was enlisted to conduct these comprehensive studies. Concurrently and as required, the Northampton City Council endorsed the formation of a municipal light plant in successive fiscal years, which would allow the legal framework needed to create a municipal network. In the November 2021 election, the voters expressed their overwhelming public support, with 87% of voters in favor of exploring a municipal light plant.

Design Nine was founded in 1987 by Andrew Cohill to provide technology advice and services to community, business, and public clients. Design Nine is one of the very few firms in the United States with experience in the design, construction, and operation of open-access broadband networks.

For more information, contact the Mayor’s Office at 413-587-1249 or

Comments 4

  • Has anyone had a chance to look over the report? I’m wondering why they opted to quote everything with buried fiber and horizontal boring and not quoted more aerial fiber? Westfield’s deployment is a mix of aerial and buried fiber. Considering that on average buried fiber is 50% more expensive and takes longer to install this seems like one area to consider some up front cost savings.

  • Our coalition has been through it with a fine tooth comb. It’s mostly technical. Representatives of Design Nine should be at tomorrow’s meeting (probably online) to clarify any points. We will count on the mayor to give us her and her staff’s assessment of the report.

  • I can offer a few advantages to buried fiber:

    Fallen trees and weather causing an unscheduled termination.

    If the poles youre attaching to are not owned by the city you would accrue a yearly fee per pole.

  • I think the big reason burial of fiber is on the table is due to long term cost savings overall, between fallen trees and the cost of renting attachment on a pole (which likely isnt owned by the city) I would think the ROI is significant over the life of the project.

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