Michitson Says ‘Future Proof’ Internet, TV, More Advancing in Haverhill; Contract Under Study

Haverhill City Councilor John A. Michitson. (Courtesy photograph.)

Haverhill officials are negotiating, what Haverhill City Councilor John A. Michitson calls, a “future-proof platform to the future.”

A 90-year contract, involving laying underground fiber optic cable, was central to an update Michitson delivered Tuesday night. Michitson explained the privately owned telecom company funds, builds and operates open-access fiber networks in cities across the country.

“This SiFi network will be approximately a $50 million to $75 million investment in Haverhill. What that really means is that everybody in the city will have a fiber path from their home all the way to the internet for both broadband services and wireless services,” he said.

Michitson, who has long championed competitive broadband, noted the proposal closes the “digital divide” by providing 10 gigabit per second service to every home and business in the city. He noted the product will include streaming video as well, at about half the cost Comcast now charges. The fiber will be available to a variety of providers, including Comcast, which can compete to make offerings available to homes and businesses.

That service is delivered through a fiber optic network which is buried along the side of city streets, approximately 12 inches deep. Michitson said that is the crux of current negotiations, making certain Haverhill’s streets are protected throughout the duration of the 90-year contract.

Upon hearing the duration of that contract, Councilor Michael S. McGonagle jokingly posed a question.

“When you sign that contract for 90 years, you do the math. What term will the mayor be on?”

City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr. provided an update on the current status of those negotiations.

“We had a very productive discussion with them last Friday, and what we are essentially doing is turning our streets over for that period of time. So, it is significant. I would anticipate that probably in about 45 days or so, we should have an agreement that we can bring forward to you at that point in time,” he said.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini added that recently retired Director of Public Works Michael K. Stankovich, was working as a point person for the project, but decided to step down. The mayor said he will likely appoint City Engineer John H. Pettis III to replace him. He also noted he intends to go to Salem, Mass., in the near future to see how SiFi’s pilot program there is working.

Comments are closed.