During the past 12 months GCET has evaluated multiple Wi-Fi equipment manufacturers to isolate the best wireless solution for our city. The Pilot Project, launched in October 2015, continued to operate (free of charge) while leading equipment manufacturers competed for our business. This Pilot Project has given us vital insight into the usage patterns of our residents and businesses as well as invaluable experience of working with leading edge technologies and world class suppliers of telecommunications service products and services. Since our official launch on July 1st we have focused our energies on staffing, final network engineering and product development. GCET now has 4 employees leading our technology, accounting and finance and business management initiatives and continues to recruit and interview additional needed personnel. Fully staffed, GCET will create 16-22 new positions within GCET alone. GCET purchased $7.4mm worth of networking and Wi-Fi technology in July and is in the process of building our technology hub from which all services will be delivered. In January, 2017 GCET will be fully funded and we will begin making significant investments in our city-wide fiber-optic infrastructure.
Development of Greenfield’s community-owned broadband network continued throughout the winter, as GCET expanded both in the field and in the office. New acquisitions and installations of fiber optic cable meant more coverage both downtown and beyond. Meanwhile, new equipment was sourced and installed to manage the network’s future traffic. We continued the ongoing Pilot Program, which provides Wi-Fi service downtown, beyond its original end date, both to continue our testing and to provide uninterrupted access prior to the launch of paid services. We expanded the Pilot Program for residential/commercial accounts as well, in the interest of product and network testing. And GCET itself expanded with new staff, as we prepared for a winter/spring launch of services. The new hires will enhance GCET’s capacity in the areas of network and on premise installations, customer experience, and sales and marketing. We’re building and growing to serve you!
In summary, the network project is mapped-out and underway. The GCET Team is staffing up and working hard. We have chosen vendors both commercial and open source. We are building and testing. We are developing our back office and support services. We have our communication plans written and our pricing strategy ready to implement. And in the next few months we’ll be reaching out to residents and businesses in the community, to begin offering TrueSpeed broadband and ClearVoice phone services at very competitive prices.
GCET Op-Ed in the Greenfield Recorder3/22/2017
Thanks to the Greenfield Recorder for running this op-ed from GCET General Manager Dan Kelley:
Twenty-five years ago, as the technology-based information economy was picking up steam, the Town of Greenfield — located in the heart of the I-91 “Knowledge Corridor” — was in a great position to benefit.
Nationwide, communities were growing and thriving as businesses started and grew. New telecommunications service providers emerged to challenge the incumbent cable and telephone companies, and the resulting competition led to enormous upgrades in communications infrastructure. Billions of dollars were spent and thousands of miles of fiber-optic cables were installed. Businesses and residents reaped a windfall as digital data got faster and cheaper.
But this infrastructure revolution didn’t benefit everyone. Greenfield, unfortunately, got left behind. How did that happen? First, those new TSPs built elsewhere, leaving Greenfield with its legacy providers: the cable and phone monopolies. The town asked these providers to invest in necessary upgrades. But they did nothing. The town asked again, and offered to help pay the cost. But again, the monopolies did nothing. So, frustrated and concerned, the community decided to do for itself. And that’s when Greenfield Community Energy & Technology entered the picture.
It was Mayor William Martin’s idea to form GCET, a municipal internet provider, and back in 2011 he defined its future mission: “To provide every resident and business with the bandwidth they need, on any device, whatever their location, at no cost to taxpayers.” In November of 2015, 82.5 percent of Greenfield voters agreed. In April of 2016, the Town Council backed the idea unanimously. Now GCET is hard at work making this vision a reality.
As you may know, we’ve been operating our free GreenLight Wi-Fi network on Main Street, and starting this spring, we begin our neighborhood-by-neighborhood launch of home- and office-based services.
GCET is a true community enterprise: we are here to serve you. We will bring broadband to the neighborhoods that do not have it; we intend to offer lower cost and better service to those underserved by incumbent providers; to bring education and awareness to schools and seniors; to help improve the efficiency of government; to provide access and information to emergency response personnel; and to support existing, relocating, and start-up businesses by getting them the speed and reliability they need to compete.
GCET is building what we call Community Broadband 2.0: the most advanced fiber optic/wireless network in any community, of any size, anywhere. We call the network GreenLight. And because Greenfield gave us the ‘green light’ to build it, we want to say ‘thank you.’
Daniel J. Kelley is the General Manager of GCET
GCET in the News!3/28/2017
Today the Greenfield Recorder ran a full feature story on GCET and our upcoming Spring launch. The article is too long to run here in its entirety, so please click the link to check it out!
Installations Are Going Strong
During the past week, we’ve been continuously working on filling in the gaps between High Street and Davis in an effort to get a deeper coverage in that area. Now we’re moving west of Davis Street! In the meantime home installations are going strong and we’ll begin scheduling business installations in October.
The work on our two remaining Points of Presences, which are necessary in order to provide service north of Pierce/Beacon Streets, is moving forward. We’ve just received word that our friends at the DPW are offering to help us out with the construction (thank you DPW!) to help speed the process up. We’ll continue to keep you posted on this project’s progress.
Finally, we’re hiring again! If you know anyone who would like to work with us as an Installation Technician please let us know!”
We know some of you have been wondering ‘What’s GCET been up to?!’ Well, we’re here to tell you.
In late June we began activating our network with the focus on the High Street – James Street – Prospect Street area. At the time of this launch we had 11 pre-signups which we scheduled and installed as our “beta customers.” While those installations went well, we did experience a few rough patches that we worked hard to correct quickly. During that time we also optimized our Software Defined Network. What does this mean exactly? Well it means we’ve fine-tuned our software so we can bring you a fast, stable and secure network.
Installations aren’t the only thing we’ve done since June though. We’ve also completed the installation of our Access Nodes (the equipment hanging from the streetlights) throughout Greenfield. Every day we are working to activate those Access Nodes, neighborhood by neighborhood, so we can provide your home or business with service.
We’d like to thank everyone for their patience, support, and most of all, the valuable input you have given that helps GCET serve our community with pride! We look forward to providing you with internet service soon!
We’re Working for You!
Now that you know what neighborhoods are active, let’s talk about what we are working on.
GCET is concentrating on filling the gap between High Street and Davis Street. We will then focus on working our way west of Davis Street so keep checking our Map and watch us grow!
GCET is also working to complete the installation of the final two Points of Presence (the network intelligence centers), so we can reach into all corners of Greenfield, including the more rural areas. Installation of the final two Points of Presence will be the final major milestone in our network build-out.
Our goal still remains to have our network available to all residents of Greenfield by the end of the year, so keep an eye on the Progress Map!
GCET Expanding Service
GCET will begin adding new coverage areas in December. This is the first step in an expansion that will bring GCET coverage to an additional 1000 homes in Greenfield in the coming months. 1000 homes that can sign up for the fastest, most affordable internet in town with honest, local service. Check the map to see when GCET is coming to your street and sign up online at www.gcet.net or call us at 413-775-6400.