October 12, 2011 Minutes
The Halifax Broadband Committee was called to order at 6:30pm Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at the Halifax Town Office. Present were committee members Edee Edwards, Curtis Carroll, Earl Holtz, Gretchen Becker, and Jessica Bruno. Member of the public present was Margo Avakian.
Edwards moved and Becker seconded that the minutes of the September 28, 2011 meeting be approved as amended, and the motion passed 5-0-0.
Visit to the School Board meeting:
Carroll attended the last school board meeting. Carroll believes the School Board is planning on making a contract with FairPoint for a 1.5 mbps DSL connection. He believes this will be a 36 month contract. Carroll informed them that in 2013 VTel will have a 10 mbps connection available in Halifax. The School Board said they were not aware of that. Carroll tried to discourage the School Board from signing a contract. Carroll called Sovernet and stated they have a 1.5mbps connection (T1 line) and asked whether they could get off contract and pay monthly- their response was yes. Carroll spoke with Greg Noble at Sovernet who stated that we could still get fiber here as the school is an anchor institution. As long as the school gets e-rate funding for it, they should be able to get it. If the school were to sign up now, they would have 6 weeks to file for e-rate funding (5 weeks as of the broadband committee meeting today).
Becker noted that the Public Service Board will be making a decision the 25th of October whether Halifax will be on their list for funding.
Edwards proposed that we continue to go to every School Board meeting over the next 5-6 weeks until the school board makes a decision regarding which internet service option they will choose.
Holtz will contact the school secretary to obtain a list of all upcoming school board meetings and distribute to the Broadband Committee. The Broadband Committee intends to have 2 or more members at all meetings over the upcoming weeks. Holtz will also contact the School Board and ask which meeting they plan on making their decision, and inform them that we have an interest in this decision and would like to be present at that meeting.
Carroll later reported that Sovernet provides a 1mb link to other schools.
Holtz started putting our survey results into a database. Everyone surveyed so far wants to be able to do a wide variety of things via the internet even if they don’t have the ability yet (banking, health, data, movies etc).
Edwards noted that if we are going to do a mailing of the survey, we need to have a list of property tied to a mailing address further split into groups of landowners, second homeowners, and full-time residents.
Holtz took the information from Patricia Dow’s survey, collated it and gave her a database of that survey. One hundred forty-eight people responded to that survey. Of those, 44% indicated they had internet service and 51% indicated they did not. Of those who have internet service, 21% have dial-up, 23% have satellite, and 21% have DSL. Edwards noted that as compared to the survey they did during Old Home Days, 9% had no service, 35% had dial-up, 26% had satellite, 17% had DSL, 9% did not specify and 1 person had cellular access.
Carroll reported that he is currently doing a survey of students at work that focuses on the school noting that some students don’t even have computers. The Committee discussed the possibility of adding additional questions to our survey but agreed that the questions we currently regarding children’s usage would give us enough information.
Edwards reported that she attended the webinar for town government websites and it was very well done and provided a lot of useful information as to how to get processes up to date etc. Edwards was able to watch the webinar using her HughesNet business connection. She also found a website where you can demonstrate and test your website at different speeds. She noted that no Website Committee meetings are scheduled at this time.
The Committee discussed the possibility of adding the url to town trucks, documents, or property, but it was agreed that the website should be dependable, reliable and accurate before the town starts advertising it.
Each member of the committee reported on their further research and discussion with their assigned vendors:
Edwards did not have any further communication with Sovernet as Carroll communicated with them last week.
Becker did not have further communication with Fairpoint.
Holtz did not get any new information from GAW.
Bruno did not have any additional information regarding wireless vendors. However, Edwards reported that she got an e-mail from Hans Hammerquist stating that he gets 4G service from an AT&T mobile hotspot device (though he needs to be on a high floor of his house). Edwards will invite him to a broadband committee meeting and also ask him if he can test his bandwith and report the results.
Becker reported that FairPoint communicated that the Public Service Board meeting will be October 25-26 and they will keep us posted. Becker was concerned because the grant doesn’t specifically say it’s for fiber. Edwards noted that if you said to Fairpoint that you wanted a specific speed (for fiber to be necessary), you would have to prove your business case that you could support it. This could mean no fiber here. Fairpoint indicated they are offering the school 1.5mbps which would be DSL.
Recent Broadband News:
Edwards reported there will be an e-communities in a digital age conference, covering ideas and best practices, to be held November 19th at Lyndon State College. The registration fee is $20.
Bruno reported on the formation of a coalition targeting the US broadband adoption gap. Companies such as Best Buy, Monster.com, and Microsoft will be attempting to show the benefits of broadband by training people in computer skills and matching them to jobs that require digital literacy.
Edwards reported that the town will be having an After Action Review meeting October 22. Edwards is going to follow up with HughesNet regarding the issue where they exceeded their bandwith limit Imposed by HughesNet to see what our other options are.
Hearing from visitors:
Avakian inquired whether the recent buffeting corona mass ejections affect satellite service. Though the committee had no specific evidence to offer, Holtz indicated that he has had issues with satellite television service due to sunspots.
It was discussed whether we can obtain copies of the school board meeting minutes along with the information provided by Fairpoint regarding the cost proposal presented.
Agenda items for the next meeting November 9, 2011:
-At the next Select Board meeting, Holtz will ask the Select Board for clarification of our mandate and report the results.
Holtz moved and Edwards seconded to adjourn the meeting at 8:45pm and the motion passed 5-0-0.