Broadband Committee
Town of Halifax, Vermont
December 24, 2014

Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 8:00 am at the town office. Board members in attendance were Edee Edwards, Jessica Bruno, and Gretchen Becker (via conference call). Curtis Carroll was absent. Others present were Chris Campbell and Dave Malko from VTA via conference call.

New Business
BBID Update
Campbell informed the committee that they have been working with the Southern VT Broadband Cooperative on a way to bring service to southwest Halifax. They had identified potential spots but they required relaying the signal so many times, that the performance is no longer something that can be funded by VTA. They identified a cell point at the town garage which overlooks many of the sites they are trying to hit. How do we get the signal from the Sovernet fiber to a point on the town garage? VTA identified two potential ways:
1- The less expensive and more likely way is to shoot the signal wirelessly from the school/town office to the town garage. Preliminary analysis by the Southern VT Broadband Cooperative shows this is feasible.
2- The more expensive and time consuming way, which requires a financial commitment form the town, is to build the fiber line from the school to the town garage via Branch Rd (1 ½ mi) or Reed Hill/Larabee Rd (3 ¼ mi). There does not appear to be a continuous pole line on Branch Rd. This would be “dark fiber” so someone would need to light it up to make it useable. Someone (most likely the town) would need to agree to be the anchor, agree to be a user for 20 years, and pay proportional costs of operating costs, pole fees, maintenance, repairs, and management fees. If someone has the IT capacity, the town could buy equipment and light it up and have essentially a private network but expertise is required. Otherwise a service provider would need to utilize and provide a link for the town and users. We would need to pay a service fee for both locations in that instance.
Campbell noted that they have a full slate of projects to complete before June so the project would need to be slotted in after that with an estimated completion date by the end of June, 2015. It would need to be engineered, pole applications would have to be completed etc, so there is a really tight schedule. If there is interest in the town anchoring it, he is willing to see if they can make it work. They would also need to authorize Southern VT Broadband Cooperative to put up a wireless facility at the town garage which would reach almost all of the businesses and individuals in the southwest district except the far west location on Aldrich Rd, and two locations on Rte 112 where a mountain blocks the line of sight. Campbell noted that VTA goes into a dormant state July 1, 2015.

Next Steps:
-There is a VTA Broadband Committee Meeting on Monday 12/29/14. Halifax is on the agenda. A full board meeting is scheduled for the first Monday in January. Campbell would like to get a working budget and approval at those meetings.
-Halifax needs a rough estimate of recurring costs. Some dimensions are fairly predictable, but repairs are variable. Insurance is the best way to turn this to a fixed cost.
-Southern VT Broadband Cooperative needs to explore their cost to connect to Sovernet at the Halifax location and compare to how many people might get service.

Edwards noted that they will look for breaks in the poles on Branch Rd which would most likely be shorter and cheaper. She noted that Reed Hill already has fiber on it, but no one can tap into it.

Bruno made a motion to take the VTA proposal for a fiber connection from the town office/school to the town garage with Wi-Fi distribution (with the backup route of town office/school to Reed Hill Rd/Larabee Rd) to the Selectboard for consideration at the regular meeting on 1/6/15. Becker seconded the motion, which passed 3-0-0.

Hearing of Visitors
The meeting was closed at 8:54am.

Respectfully submitted,
Jessica Bruno

This map was received after the meeting, but shows the proposed service area in SW Halifax: