Broadband communications (BB) is the “electricity of the 21st century” and is essential for a large and increasing proportion of all aspects of modern life. Further, the number of things for which BB is needed, and the amount of speed and volume that are required for expanding uses are rising at exponential rates. This is making the question of affordable universal BB availability an important public policy question and community challenge.
The best mechanism for providing this essential service is universally considered to be via optical fiber to every home, business and institution. This is known as “Fiber-to-the-Home” (FTTH) or “Fiber-to-the-Premises” (FTTP) or “Fiber-to-anywhere (FTTx). We choose to use “FTTx” but, effectively, all these terms are interchangeable. Not only does FTTx provide the fastest and most reliable service today, it is the only technology capable of being easily and efficiently upgraded to virtually any level of speed and volume as needs grow—without having to replace the “wires” themselves. This capacity is referred to as “future-proof”. FTTx is the most future proof of any current broadband technology.
Underhill, Jericho and Westford (UJW) do not have FTTx anywhere—and no realistic prospect of getting it from existing carriers. What is available instead are DSL (from FairPoint), Satellite (from several companies), both of which are available to virtually everyone — and VTEL fixed wireless and Comcast cable, which are only available in limited areas.
Satellite is both expensive and performs poorly for most purposes other than delivery of “downstream” television. DSL is slow and speeds are variable and unreliable. Although certainly better than the old “dial-up” it is widely recognized to be inadequate for future needs (and for many current ones). Cable is certainly better but is both expensive and cannot be continuously upgraded virtually forever as fiber can. Fixed wireless (VTel) has limited capacity, slows down when there are many simultaneous users on the system and cannot reach many people.
In view of the above, a group of UJW citizens who have the necessary skills and experience have decided to build a true, modern, state-of-the-art FTTx network here. The senior managers, Tim and Leslie Nulty of Jericho, were the initiators and top executives at ECFiber in Eastern Vermont from its birth in early 2008 until 2014. When that reached critical mass and became self-sustainable, they resigned from active management (they are still on the Board of Directors) and decided to build a similar network in their own and neighboring towns. (See www.ECFiber.net). The first such segment is the northern portion of Pleasant Valley Road in Underhill, where construction is expected to begin in July, 2017.