Massachusetts Broadband Institute: Utility pole survey 'critical first step' for 'Last Mile' municipalities


EGREMONT — Workers will be sizing up utility poles in the coming weeks, part of the long-awaited process of bringing broadband to the community.

The town is one of five 'Last Mile' communities in Western Massachusetts selected for pole surveys by the Massachusetts Broadband Institute, a "critical first step in the pre-construction process," according to Brian Noyes, MBI spokesman.

This is the next phase in the long-awaited effort to bring broadband access to underserved Western Massachusetts towns, Noyes said. More communities will be surveyed as the fall unfolds. The other four towns involved in this round of surveys are Ashfield, New Salem, Shutesbury and Wendell.

OsmosE Utility Services of East Syracuse, N.Y., will be surveying every utility pole in town to determine if there is enough room on the pole to accommodate fiber optic cable.

Town officials don't expect pole space to be an issue, said Mary Brazie, the town's administrative assistant.

"Verizon and National Grid requested it," she said.

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Noyes said employees from OsmosE could be in town by Monday. The work is expected to take four to five weeks.

The surveys are an important step toward the construction of so-called "Last Mile" networks in Egremont and the other four towns, said Noyes. In all, 45 other towns across Western and Central Massachusetts are seeking design and construction support from MBI.

Noyes explained that during the pole survey process, residents can expect to see technicians driving through town.

The survey work, he said, entails taking photos of the poles and the accompanying hardware on each, determining the exact height of each pole, pinpointing the exact location of each pole using GPS technology and assessing the overall condition of each pole.

That assessment will include an engineering report on each pole's ability to bear the weight of new broadband infrastructure.

OsmosE was selected in June from a roster of several potential vendors, Noyes said. The company has more than 80 years of experience performing pole surveys across the country, he said.

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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