Underserved Western Massachusetts Community Is Ready for High Speed Connectivity
In the hill town of Blandford, internet access has long been a struggle for residents and businesses. Located in Hampden County in the Berkshire Mountains, Blandford is rural and remote, with 1,260 residents relying on Verizon DSL service or nothing for their achingly slow internet connectivity. Until now…
Sertex has completed installing fiber optic cabling in the first of five Fiber Service Areas (FSA) that, combined, will soon become the town-owned high speed broadband network. Construction of Blandford’s broadband network began on November 30, 2020, when Sertex crews started attaching strand to the first utility poles in FSA04. Just shy of six months later, aerial fiber installation has been completed, and Sertex crews have tested and certified approximately 17.5 miles of fiber cable.
“It’s been a long eight-year process planning and designing this network and getting Make Ready work done,” explained Peter Langmore, municipal light and power manager for the Town of Blandford. “Sertex has gone above and beyond throughout this complicated process. All Sertex employees we have delt with have been friendly, responsive, and qualified. Our Make Ready work has taken months and Sertex has been our partner throughout, meeting with the utility companies, the town, and the Department of Transportation to find solutions to complicated problems. When Sertex construction teams locate an issue on a pole, they work out the solution directly with the utility. And while they’re working on the solution, their crews move forward, continuing to strand the cable on unaffected poles, so no time is lost.”
One of the design challenges in planning the Blandford network was spanning three Interstate highway crossings. Sertex’s solution to run fiber cables over the bridges on the railings rather than leasing space in underground conduits offered significant cost savings to the town.
With FSA04’s aerial work completion, Sertex has turned fiber network construction responsibility in that FSA back over to Whip City Fiber (a division of Westfield Gas & Electric), Blandford’s internet service provider. Once Whip City has completed its testing, construction of fiber-to-the-home connections to about 200 customers in the FSA will begin. Blandford residents in FSA04 should have lit fiber by mid-June. By Fall 2021, the entire 53.5-mile aerial network will be up and running, and all customers in Blandford will enjoy one-gigabyte internet access and an option for Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) telephone service on the network.