Better internet is coming, but Monterey residents need to act

Internet availability, or the lack thereof, has been a frequent topic of discussion and in many cases, angst, over the last decade.  Even with the AT&T cell tower offering interim relief, those of us who use it for data have seen a pronounced degradation over holiday weekends due peak demand.  Fortunately, there is progress being made.  For homes in New Marlborough, the town has entered into an agreement with Spectrum and work is underway. The targeted go live date is in the first half of 2021.

For residents on the other side of the lake in Monterey, the log jam between the State and Fiber Connect (FC) has been broken and the State will release about $1.1 million to FC to wire 96% of the town with fiber optic lines PROVIDED 51% of the Monterey households commit now.  Without that commitment, the State will not release the funding and FC will not move forward.  Furthermore, since FC has already wired a significant portion of Monterey, no other company will likely enter the market.

As of July, 2020 FC had received commitments from 39%.  If you are interested in true broadband and have not contacted FC about your interest, you may want to do so now. In addition, FC is offering some very attractive installation discounts if you commit now.

Even if you don’t see the need personally for broadband access,  it is fair to say your property values will be adversely impacted by the lack of broadband availability.

5 thoughts on “Better internet is coming, but Monterey residents need to act

  1. Chuck: I want internet as much as most, and I don’t profess to know every detail, but my recollection is that the fellow that owns this company came along a couple of years ago offering to wire only the most lucrative parts of Monterey (mostly Garfield and Buel) without any government subsidy. The result was that Wired West, and any other company trying go get last mile funding from the government to wire the entire town at lower rates, failed. Now, Fiber Connect, having run everyone else out of town, is trying to get government money yet still charge much higher fees. Seems unfair to me. I feel we have been hoodwinked. If I am wrong about this, please correct me.
    Given my part time use, a $1000 install fee, $100 a month, and a three year commitment for 12 months a year is too high a price to pay.

    • There is certainly a lot of history, including Wired West’s initial business model being rejected by the state, but the Massachusetts money is available to a group of underserved towns largely in western MA. Early participants include Comcast and Spectrum, but the State was concerned with a small local firm with limited track record. As a result, Monterey was more or less on the sidelines for the pass couple of years.

      Did Fiber Connect meet the Internet need for half the town several years ago? It did, without any government subsidy. Did that preclude other entrants? Probably. I don’t recall though that they ever made a claim of wiring the entire town. Perhaps they did. The government subsidy though does require that at least 96% of all households have access.

      I think you’ll find the installation fee if you sign up before the build out is $499 but check with FC. Regarding their monthly fee, it’s on par with what I’m paying in suburban Boston. Not cheap by any stretch of the imagination but so much of what we do nowadays requires internet access.

  2. Great article! Any update if 51% of the Monterey households have committed? Has there been any talks of having a Verizon wireless cell phone tower? Will Spectrum internet be ready for New Marlborough by Q2 2021? Thanks

    • My understanding as of late November is the Monterey “take rate” is in the mid 40’s %. It’s worth noting that Fiber Connect as a private company can continue to wire the lower cost, more dense areas (relatively speaking!) using its own capital. The state grant will enable FC to extend its reach into other areas of town that require a subsidy in order to be profitable. I was pleased to see FC has already started the fiber stringing along all of Route 57 and Laurel Banks!

      Regarding Verizon, they have added an antenna to the second cell phone tower at the eastern end of Monterey. Supposedly they are evaluating adding an antenna to the original cell tower at the intersection of routes 23 and 57, currently used by AT&T.

      Regarding Spectrum, I’ll defer to the NM residents or the town website.

      Hope that helps.

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