Over the last three years, an amazing thing has happened in Westfield. We have become one of the few communities in Western Massachusetts which has a locally owned fiber optic internet service. Not only that, we offer gigabit service at a nationwide low price. At this time, we have expended our bond proceeds and completed construction, making Whip City Fiber accessible to approximately 70% of the homes in Westfield. A rollout of this size and speed is quite an accomplishment but we don’t have time to relax. Are you wondering what happens next? Read on.
Our team of engineers, customer service reps, installers, and techs has tackled this project with expertise and energy. We’ve leveraged our employees’ deep knowledge base and skill sets to jump start the technology-based initiative, Whip City Fiber. Our business plan was based on carefully proving the project each step of the way, thus protecting and benefiting our constituents. When we make a business decision it is always in light of the fact that we answer to the people of Westfield.
Although Whip City Fiber is available to 70% of residents, those customers in locations which aren’t on the network at this time want to know why. It’s a fair question and it has a pretty simple answer. The areas which were built first were selected based on the cost to build and the level of customer interest in those areas. We started with the areas with less expensive construction so that income from those accounts would be able to support the costs of construction in more expensive areas going forward. While a solid business decision, it is not a particularly satisfying one if you happen to live in a currently unserved part of town.
You might wonder what makes an area expensive to build. Neighborhoods or areas with underground services tend to be more costly than those with overhead services. Larger apartments and condominiums present additional barriers to installation as well. Those restored mill buildings which have been repurposed so beautifully are a real challenge on many levels when it comes to wiring. At this time, we are limiting these more expensive installations while we give our new business a chance to grow.
There are some previously scheduled underground areas where we will complete construction after the spring thaw. These include Overlook Drive, Park River Drive, Park River Circle, Crescent Ridge, Stephanie Lane, 929 Shaker Road, Angelica Drive, and Rambling Drive. Underground locations which will not move ahead at this time include Indian Ridge, Hunter Slope, Wieser Drive, Fox Hill Drive, Yankee Circle, Surrey Lane, Sally Avenue, Loomis Ridge, Old Park Lane, and Hamilton Way.
As the main construction project draws to a close, we turn our focus to increasing our customer base. We hope to sign up many more customers in areas which are already built to help fund additional expansion in the future. In some ways, it’s not a hard sell. Whip City Fiber is an incredible product. It’s fast, reliable, and local. It’s also a product our customers believe in. In fact, they rave about it. Word-of-mouth is really the greatest sales tool we can imagine. Check out the testimonials our customers regularly contribute to Facebook or on our website. We’re proud of the product, the price, and the high-quality service we provide. If you aren’t taking advantage of Whip City Fiber today, we hope you’ll give us a look and join this community-based effort.
Finally, we wanted to touch base on our involvement with the hilltowns. You may have heard that we are adding customers in towns like Otis and Alford to the Whip City Fiber network. In fact, we are talking with another 18 towns in hopes they will join our network as well. But we want to be clear, these towns are paying their own way and footing the bill for the entire effort from engineering to construction. Again, we are leveraging the skillsets and support systems we have already developed to help these town Municipal Light Boards (often made up of volunteers) succeed in bringing the internet to their residents. We are not investing any Westfield revenues in these towns, only our expertise.
These un-served or underserved towns in Western Massachusetts don’t have adequate internet access. At best, they have service at a safety complex, town hall, or school. They might have DSL at 2 Mbps; that’s 500 times slower than Whip City Fiber. Our team knew we could share our knowledge to help get their projects lit up. At the same time as we assist with the engineering and construction, we also offer to become the Internet Service Provider (ISP), the final step to serving their customers. Adding these regional partners and their customers to our network lets us each benefit from greater economies of scale and provides additional revenue to the WCF bottom line. Ultimately, this benefits all the citizens of Westfield.
Our goal is to continue making smart business decisions that will enable us to eventually offer Whip City Fiber to everyone in Westfield. It’s going to take some time and some patience. We ask for your continued support and understanding as we work very hard to make this exciting service available throughout our community.