Broadband Committee Meeting Minutes – 11/25/19

Present: Paul Looney Chair; Bob Anderson Steve Grenier, Rod Bouchard, Dick Hill, Dennis Marcom, and Peggy Pschirrer

Guests: Rob Koester, Vice President, Consolidated Communications; Jeff McIver, Consumer Products, 770 Elm Street, Manchester, NH 03101

Rob Koester reviewed a power point presentation which was on paper and distributed to all committee members.

Mr. Koester indicated they were close to completing a contract with Dublin which he expected would be similar to any contract with Walpole. He agreed to forward that Dublin Contract to Walpole for review. Terms and conditions have changed since their first contract agreement with Chesterfield.

Chesterfield has an agreement which has the Town owning the equipment during the terms of the Bond. Once the Bond is paid off Consolidated will own all the equipment. Consolidated has done a 180 on owning assets.

Now, each community will own the network assets during and after the life of the Bond.

Consolidated Communications Inc. serves rural communities. In New York State they completed 22,000 connections in 16 months. Fairpoint had a different business model. CCI focuses on consumers. CCI is well aware of the discontent Fairpoint Customers experienced. CCI makes appointments 90% of the time On Time.

Mr. Koester explained Consolidated Communications is a healthy company; its ration of debt to income is 4.3. They are the 9th largest in fiber optics. They are paying down debt.

Mr. Koester was asked what he meant by Town owned. Ownership will be clearly demarcated. Routers will be marked to the Town. CCI will be responsible 100% for all upgrades; CCI owns all the poles in Town. CCI will maintain all the equipment as well as operate all equipment in a contract with the Town.

The subject of whether bonds would be taxable or non-taxable was raised. Chesterfield’s bond will be taxable.

Mr. Koester explained that in the current agreement being drafted by CCI

WE (the Town) would own the network.

Principle and interest for a 20-year bond would be incorporated in the agreement.

After twenty years the Town would have alternatives: they could choose to run the system they own; rebid a new agreement with CCI; or sell the system to someone else.

Bond payments will go down every year. Every two years CCI will meet with the Selectboard and negotiate a new subscriber fee.

CCI will make bond payments.

Fiber was discussed. Fiber drop on existing poles at no charge.

ONT – Optical Network Termination.

Mr. Koester stated that 25 ÷ 3 is a standard.

He also said that there will come a time when they will want to get rid of copper.

The faster speed you have will probably cost less.

If you move from copper to fiber you are a new customer of CCI.

What makes Walpole different from Chesterfield? Walpole has fewer miles – 62; Walpole has buried fiber.

Walpole has sole and joint ownership of poles.

Pole assessment charges have long been an issue. The question was raised about what is the long-term game plan for pole assessment?

How do you prepare for build out? Mr. Koester replied: We build it, you own it. It adds value to the Town. We will serve all Towns.

Today Chesterfield is asymmetrical.

Walpole has 1 gig capability. It will contract 3 year pricing. Charge promos are run every 3-6 months.

About 60 days before plan begins, CCI will run a separate web page for Walpole.

Asked how CCI can run 4 towns at once? Mr. Koester replied, CCI uses professional contractors to build the lines. There will be a project manager.

Chesterfield areas each have a splitter cabinet.

The same will be true in Walpole.

Every two weeks CCI will give Walpole a chart of where they are. Do we do back bone fiber; do splitter cabinets one at a time.

CCI will support you in Town meetings demo boards of field operations.

The Town always owns the network.

A discussion was held about the financial health of CCI. Mr. Koester emphasized they are in good shape and the PUC would never allow them to go bankrupt.

Mr. Koester agreed to share the draft contract from Dublin. He believes Walpole’s contract will be similar.

There will be a web site for sign-up. There will be 5-7 splitter cabinets. Up to 3 mgs to splitter – optical on house.

There will be free service to City facilities and schools.

Brad from Chesterfield is invited to the next meeting, December 2.

There will be a public meeting in January.

Bond payments are made once a year. All contracts will be reviewed by Town counsel

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