Letter: Becket resident very familiar with slow crawl of internet upgrade

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To the editor:

As a Becket resident, I'd like to reply to the previous letter to the editor sent by our members of our Select Board (Eagle, "Misconceptions about Becket's broadband network," July 24).

To be clear, we have absolutely no misconceptions. We are very clear in our understanding that this project is vastly behind schedule. How far behind? We first sent in $50 to WiredWest nearly five years ago.

More recently, in May 2019, our state senator's office said this: "The estimate I have is that Becket will be done with make-ready with Eversource this fall, and with Verizon very early next year — which would then lead to construction (a 10- to 12-month process)."

This would have put completion at ... right about now. Yet here we are in July 2020 — make-ready has just now been completed and we begin the arduous process of checking this work before construction can even begin. When pressed for a completion date, the answers we get seem to be "the end of 2022." What happened in the past year that put us so far behind the May 2019 estimate?

We need not dwell on the past and assign blame, but we also don't have to settle for the status quo. Perhaps, instead of just a penalty for being late, offer the companies involved an incentive to finish early. Maybe charge all homes a $100 signup fee that goes to pay this incentive. Or just have local officials, state officials, phone companies and Westfield Gas & Electric work together to remove all roadblocks and move forward quickly.

In the time of remote schooling, forced work from home and an older community fearful of venturing too far out, another 18 months is unacceptable. We're all being called upon to do work smarter and be creative at our jobs and schools. We call on the Select Board and our elected state officials to do the same to bring this project to completion much sooner than Christmas 2022.

Leonard Levine,

Becket

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