Frequently Asked Questions

These questions and answers are provided in good-faith and for general information only. They reflect the committee’s best available knowledge at the time of writing and should not be considered final.

Question can be submitted on the Contact Us page.

+ Why would Harvard want an FTTx (Fiber to the Premises) network?

By having an FTTx network, the Town ensures that it has the capability and capacity to provide future-proof Gigabit Internet and telecommunications services to its residents.

+ How would the MLP operate?

To be determined by the business plan.

An approach used by other MLPs is to sub-contract the network and business operations. The MLP governing body sets the requirements of the services offered over its fiber. If the sub-contractor fails to provide adequate service, the MLP can find and contract with another provider – because the Town owns the infrastructure. In contrast, today, we have no ability to affect change in the services.

+ Will Town politics inhibit proper operation of the MLP?

No.

The MLP will be a separate entity from the Town government. If residents prefer, they can elect the members of the MLP governing body creating an autonomous structure. It will also have a separate budget from the Town budget. (Similar to public school governance.)

+ Are MLPs a new thing? Are we trying something new?

No.

MLPs were created over 100 years ago and updated over time. The legislation (MGL Chapter 164) currently enables towns to form their electric departments, community television, and telecommunications services. Forty towns have established MLPs in the recent years for the purpose of providing telecom services in the Commonwealth.

+ Will the fiber network offer internet and phone Services?

At a minimum, the fiber network will provide Internet services. The business plan will determine what additional services may be provided, in response to a needs survey and public input.

+ What about TV? Can I watch TV over the fiber?

Streaming video content including HD, 4K video (including TV) is possible over fiber. Video content providers such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, and streaming video devices such as PlayStation TV, Sling TV, Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire are options.

+ Will this increase my taxes?

We (The Broadband Committee) are researching how the other 40 MLPs have funded their projects. The committee is sensitive to the issue of taxpayer burden.

+ If we invest in fiber, won’t we need to upgrade it eventually?

An advantage of fiber is that the fiber rarely needs to be upgraded. When an upgrade is required, the electronic components that send the light pulses through the fiber at both ends are what is upgraded.

+ Will I have to switch my cable, telephone and internet access to this service?

You will not have to subscribe to this service. You may continue using your current providers for all your existing services if you prefer.

+ Will Harvard need to add employees to operate & maintain this network?

Not necessarily.

Depending on the business model, other MLPs have sub-contracted to vendors, while others manage some functions internally.

+ What happens if we build out our Fiber network and then another company comes in and creates a new network? In other words, can someone else “overbuild” our network?

The Board of Selectmen would first need to issue a franchise to the new provider before they could start a build-out.

FTTH Council research shows that there have been no incidents of an FTTx network being “overbuilt” anywhere in the USA to date. Other service providers may be invited to use the Fiber network as well, which is an advantage of Fiber technology.

+ How will fiber be brought to my home or business?

Depending on engineering and topographic details, some fiber will need to be buried, some will be able to use the utility poles, and some fiber may be able to use existing underground conduits.

There are also trenching methods that are minimally invasive, such as micro-trenching.