Podcast: Michitson Says Private Investment Backs Plan for Haverhill Fiber Optic Network

Haverhill City Councilor John A. Michitson. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill is closer than ever to “bridging the digital divide” with a New Jersey-based developer of fiber optic networks backing its Haverhill plans with private investment.

Haverhill City Councilor John A. Michitson, who has warned for the past five years that the city risks being left behind unless it can bring in affordable, high-speed data networks, says SiFi Networks has time-sensitive plans for the city.

“SiFi is pushing for June/July of this year because they do have investors, and they do need to move forward with their agreements with the various cities across the country. So, they are putting a little bit of pressure on the city. I’m hoping for a decision in the next two or three months,” he says.

Michitson, who says the digital divide became ever more apparent during the last year as people, businesses, healthcare and the government relied on the internet, provided the update last week on WHAV’s morning program. He notes city officials are looking at SciFi’s response to a request for proposals to build a fiber optic network in Haverhill. The councilor says the RFP was specifically designed for the situation.

“The RFP was more targeted towards the type of solution that SiFi provides out there. It wasn’t wide open, for example, for companies that want to provide municipal networks. So right now, this is the one solution we are evaluating, and hoping to hit pay dirt,” he explains.

Michitson talked about some of the benefits of the proposal

“The SiFi Network proposal is a private solution, so the cost of installation and service is owned by the provider. The city is now in the process of doing its due diligence by prudently evaluating the proposal to address possible risk to the city, including topics such as microtrenching and public right of way privileges, which are both prominent in the proposal. So that’s where we are. I’ll let the city release the details when they are ready, of how that’s going, but it is moving along,” he adds.

Michitson says SiFi Networks has a number of fiber optic networks around the country. It demonstrated construction techniques last fall in Salem, Mass., in advance of building gigabit internet, television and telephone to residents and businesses.

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