On Thursday, Feb. 11, the creation of a Municipal Fiber Task Force to study implementing an internet network throughout Agawam was announced by Mayor William P. Sapelli.
Sapelli said that a town-owned and managed network is just one option Agawam will explore as an alternative to Comcast. The town could also partner with a third party to provide service, make another arrangement, or not change anything at all.
Among the factors that will be studied by the task force are costs and service impact on residents.
Comcast’s planned data caps went into effect on Jan. 1, in 12 states - including Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania - plus Washington, D.C.
The internet service and cable provider has said that it will not charge customers for going over the new 1.2 terabytes per month limit in January and February. After that, it will cost $10 per 50 gigabytes up to a maximum of $100 for more data.
To get an idea of how much that is, with 1.2TB of data, you could listen to 21,600 hours of streaming music or watch 500 hours of HD TV, according to Comcast. The company also said that 95 percent of its customers don’t use anywhere near 1.2TB of data each month.
Still, the new pay structure has drawn sharp criticism from community leaders and customers, including the residents of Agawam. People have been especially upset that the change is coming during the COVID-19 pandemic when many people are working and going to school remotely via the internet.
“Comcast’s announcement has created a tremendous amount of anxiety in Town and people are rightfully concerned with exceeding the monthly cap and facing higher internet bills,” Mayor Sapelli said in a statement.
“A modern high-speed internet service offered at a reasonable cost will serve as another major policy initiative to keep Agawam a great place to reside or operate a business. Two major concerns are: is it affordable, and; is this the best model for our residents and businesses.”
The Agawam Municipal Fiber Task Force will be comprised of seven people representing residents, local businesses, and the government. The goal is for the group to report back to the mayor in late spring.
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