Fiber Connect to offer broadband service to customers in Monterey

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This story has been modified to clarify that the Massachusetts Broadband Institute brought broadband into the Berkshires through the Middle Mile initiative, which was completed in 2014.

MONTEREY — A local tech entrepreneur is bringing high-speed broadband to the Berkshires — and the town of Monterey is the first stop.

"We're starting Phase One now," said Adam Chait, founder of Fiber Connect LLC. "In the next few months, we'll be building out a complete fiber-optic infrastructure for 40 percent of the town's residents."

Monterey is among a group of Berkshire communities that still do not have broadband service, which provides higher internet speeds necessary for home and business in the changing economy. And Fiber Connect is offering to provide speeds even higher than most internet providers in the Berkshires.

Monterey is moving forward with looking at bringing broadband access to the town. On Thursday, the town voted in Special Town Meeting to approve $40,000 for consulting expertise on the feasibility of town-provided broadband. But for Chait, that's not soon enough.

"Being in tech in Berkshire County is very difficult because of the internet speeds," he said.

Chait formed Fiber Connect in 2014 after the Massachusetts Broadband Institute finished its Middle Mile initiative, which extended broadband cable and internet access through the 1,200 mile MassBroadband 123 network.

That network connected 1,100 public institutions throughout the region — including the Berkshires — and created the foundation to extend new networks to homes and businesses, known as the Last Mile.

"We had done some laterals off of Middle Mile for industries and high-wealth individuals already," Chait said. "About a year ago we saw the state wasn't going to get it done anytime soon, so we decided we'd go ahead and build out ourselves."

Monterey was chosen for two main reasons. Chait said the community is favorable to better internet access — important for a private company pouring private money into such a venture. And the town's infrastructure is in very good shape.

The company has agreements in place with local utility companies for setting up the fiber-optic network. Fiber Connect will install the cables and start providing service within the next few months.

Chait said the company is renting space on utility poles and following the same guidelines that any company would in a similar situation.

"We are completely privately owned and funded," he said.

The plan for Phase One will bring service to the town starting on the east and running west. The service will wrap around Lake Garfield and connect down the town's southeastern Sandisfield Road, just past New Marlborough Road to the east. New Marlborough Road, just to the east of the village center, will not be connected in Phase One. The service area will extend down Route 23 from the east to the flats by Gould Farm.

Subscriptions for the service will run at $99 a month, with a one-time $999 setup fee. But the company is offering high discounts to those who get in on the ground floor — for example, 70 percent of the setup fee is waived for those who sign up before Oct. 25.

The price is in line with similar services, Chait said, but Fiber Connect will provide a much higher level of connectivity.

"Many cable companies offer a 100-megabit per second (100 Mbps) download speed at $99 a month," he said. We are offering 1 gigabyte (1000 Mbps) speeds, so it's a very good bang for the buck."

There are no data caps for the service.

Chait said the company is looking for a good reaction in pre-subscriptions before moving to Phase Two, which is projected to cover another 40 percent of residents, he said, then Phase Three will provide access to outlying areas of the town.

Chait said Fiber Connect has a number of other projects in the works.

"We have other pilot programs," he said. "We'll be announcing them soon."


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