Cable company vies for fiber project
DOVER - At economic development director Steve Neratko’s monthly meeting with business owners Tuesday, May 22, Ryan Duncan, of Duncan Cable, presented a proposal from the company to provide fiber-to-the-home service in East Dover.
“Last year, FairPoint did come with a proposal (for fiber to the home) to the selectboard,” said Neratko. “We are still looking at the potential of that project and funding mechanisms. There are a lot of different opinions right now regarding whether or not public funds can be utilized for private telecom networks. We’re looking at navigating those different things right now.”
Neratko said he was exploring the possibility for grants.
“I have had conversations with USDA Rural Development, who has grants for projects like this,” said Neratko. “They were very excited about our potential project. We are eligible for loans. We may be eligible for grants as well. As a whole town we aren’t eligible because we have higher income throughout the whole town, but if we look at smaller areas such as East Dover, we could potentially do income surveys, and if it comes in below the required amount, we can get grant funding.”
Duncan’s proposal includes an estimated cost of $852,349 for getting the network established. A major source of cost would be pole planting. The proposal estimates that 320 poles would need to be installed at a cost of $384,400.
“The main issue, if you will, with East Dover is that the (existing) pole plant, some of it is out in the roads but a large portion of it is easements, where it goes off into the woods or fields and through backyards,” said Duncan. “That can pose a major problem both in installation of a new plant and the maintenance of the network once it’s in place.”
As a result, Duncan said the company would likely want to put poles closer to the road. Selectboard vice chair Vicki Capitani expressed concerns about poles lining the roads in East Dover. “I’m concerned about the pole proliferation,” said Capitani. “People like their views. I know on my road this would be a big deal for people, and I’m not sure they’re prepared. There are giant maple trees exactly where those poles need to go.”
“We’ll be known as the town of the pole farm,” said resident Rich Werner.
Duncan agreed that adding so many poles to streets may be difficult. “We would try to do it in a way that’s as noninvasive as possible but there is only so much you can do,” said Duncan, noting that survey work for where poles would be placed would still need to be done. “This is all very preliminary,” said Duncan.
“This would be the first of many public meetings on this topic,” said Neratko.
Per a survey on Duncan’s website, their projected rates for fiber to the home are 30Mbps/10Mbps at $49.95 per month; 50Mbps/30Mbps at $59.95 per month with a one-year contract or $69.96 per month without a contract; and 100Mbps/60Mbps at $119.95 per month with a one-year contract or $199.95 without a contract.
Per the proposal Duncan presented at the meeting, a $99.95 installation fee would be incurred by the homeowner for standard installation of an overhead service drop cable of 350 feet or less.