Comcast offered to wire up Charlemont, Mass. for $462,000—town said, “no.”
A small Massachusetts town has rejected an offer from Comcast and instead plans to build a municipal fiber broadband network.
Comcast offered to bring cable Internet to up to 96 percent of households in Charlemont in exchange for the town paying $462,123 plus interest toward infrastructure costs over 15 years. But Charlemont residents rejected the Comcast offer in a vote at a special town meeting Thursday.
“The Comcast proposal would have saved the town about $1 million, but it would not be a town-owned broadband network,” the Greenfield Recorder reported Friday. “The defeated measure means that Charlemont will likely go forward with a $1.4 million municipal town network, as was approved by annual town meeting voters in 2015.”
About 160 residents voted, with 56 percent rejecting the Comcast offer, according to news reports.
Charlemont has about 1,300 residents and covers about 26 square miles in northwest Massachusetts. Town officials estimate that building a municipal fiber network reaching 100 percent of homes would cost $1,466,972 plus interest over 20 years.
An increase in property taxes would cover the construction cost. But the town would also bring in revenue from selling broadband service and potentially break even, making the project less expensive than Comcast’s offer.
“With 59 percent of households taking broadband service, the tax hike would be 29 cents [per $1,000 of assessed home value], similar to that for Comcast,” a Recorder article last month said. “But if 72 percent or more of households subscribe to the municipal-owned network, there is no tax impact, because subscriber fees would pay for it.”
Currently, Comcast covers about 9.5 percent of Charlemont, while Verizon DSL is available in about 88 percent, according to estimates by BroadbandNow.