Friday, July 27, 2001
DSL service on the way?
A new grassroots effort to bring broadband Internet service to Carlisle was off to a positive start on July 18 when more than thirty residents crowded into Tim Pierce's living room on Heald Road to exchange ideas. The meeting was scarcely underway when Linda Mahoney, Verizon's public relations representative, made a surprise announcement: "DSL [Digital Subscriber Line] service for Carlisle has been budgeted for 2001" and that the buildout "should be completed by the end of this year or the first quarter of 2002."
This was welcome news for those in attendance, all of whom were frustrated by the lack of Internet access in Carlisle. They were executives running businesses from their Carlisle homes, businesspeople who work at home, and individuals who simply want faster service when they browse the Internet.
However, some residents expressed concern over the quality of Verizon's DSL service, which would be made available to all Carlisle residents from the town's remote central office (RCO) in front of the Town Hall. Tim Pierce said that two small DSL resellers, Covad and Rhythms, are reportedly interested in providing service if enough Carlisle households were to subscribe in advance. Mahoney reported that Verizon would be receptive to hosting third-party DSL providers co-locating in Carlisle and confirmed that the RCO was recently upgraded with DSL in mind. Wendell Sykes agreed to serve as contact for Mahoney at Verizon as DSL plans unfold.
Paul Gill, representing the Carlisle Cable Communications Advisory Committee, explained AT&T Broadband's stance on cable TV and broadband services. AT&T's primary service, regulated by the state, is cable TV, whereas broadband service is unregulated and therefore can not be part of the cable license. Gill pointed out that AT&T's proposal for continued cable TV services to Carlisle after the current license expires in October 2001 postpones high-speed data services until two years after the license is renewed, or late 2003. A public hearing on the proposal has been scheduled for August 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the Clark Room, Town Hall.)
State Representative Carol Cleven attended the meeting and heard participants express a need for greater regulation of broadband. Especially desirable would be a bill defining high-speed data transmission as an essential service. Cleven will check at the State House to determine if such regulatory issues are under discussion by committees.
Other strategies for providing Internet access to Carlisle were introduced by their entrepreneurial supporters. Among them were building a "grassroots DSL service" by bringing a T-3 line into Carlisle and wiring out to homes using local copper pairs from Verizon. The central equipment could be co-located in the Verizon central office, or even housed in a resident's home. Several models for this initiative exist, one in Concord operated by resident David Clark, an MIT professor of computer science. The question remained as to who in Carlisle might emulate Professor Clark's effort.
Attendees were enthusiastic about conducting a survey of residents to determine the number of potential subscribers to DSL, data that would be of interest to Verizon as well as potential third-party providers such as Covad and Rhythms. Further work by members of the group will be necessary before the survey can be designed and distributed.
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