Municipal Broadband Study


  • Broadband Feasibility Analysis

image of broadband report2023: The second phase of the study will answer the question of whether it is feasible to pursue the efforts to build and operate a network that would provide the services identified by the market study. The main purpose of the second phase is to provide a cost-benefit analysis based on potential business models. The final Broadband Feasibility Analysis can be found here

Image of Broadband Community Meeting - News Flash Image
  • Municipal Broadband Marketing Survey & Study

2021 & 2022: The City of Northampton conducted a broadband market study to determine if a municipal network is the best path to a future with faster and better Internet for our community. The final report of the first phase of the study can be found here

As communities across Massachusetts and the United States build municipal networks, we’re taking the time to carefully look at this idea, to make sure we choose the best options for our city. We needed the community's help to accurately answer this question. A comprehensive survey and study was designed by an independent consulting firm, Design Nine, to determine if a municipal network is the best path to a future with faster and better internet for our community.  

  • Ballot Question To Ratify Municipal Light Plant Votes

2021: Former Mayor David J. Narkewicz and former City Councilor William H. Dwight co-sponsored a measure to submit a ballot question at the annual election for Northampton's voters to ratify the city council votes authorizing the city to take all necessary and appropriate action to establish and maintain a municipal light plant for the operation of a telecommunications systems and any related services. The order was approved and a question was included on the November 2, 2021, municipal election ballot. Find the approved order here.

Northampton voters widely supported the ballot measure, with 87% of voters in favor, of exploring establishing a municipal light plant, which is a city-owned company that can provide utility services including telecommunications systems. The municipal light plant would be able to provide internet to businesses and households in the city. This approval does not obligate the city to establish a municipal light plant, but the city cannot form a municipal light plant without voter ratification of the two prior city council votes in favor.

  • Ad-Hoc Advisory Committee

2020: In early 2020, an RFP requesting a municipal broadband study be conducted was posted. Through the exploration of this study, an ad-hoc committee was formed to review applicants that would be considered for both the market study and feasibility study should it be deemed worthy of moving forward. At the onset, the concept of city-wide broadband held the potential to impact many businesses as well as social aspects of the community. Some of these areas that could have potential impact would be the cost-control of internet access for local businesses, and enticing companies to settle within the Northampton area due to affordable and reliable broadband access. This impact would extend to increasing employment opportunities, and city growth, and ideally allow small businesses to thrive without the increasing demands of private internet fees. By equipping the city with broadband, municipal and public safety would have access to smart-city technologies that are currently not available. Institutions of higher learning would have the ability to engage in these services as well, stretching to the on-campus housing and lecture halls. Residential community members would benefit from the competitive pricing for broadband services as they would see affordable pricing at the 1 Gig level whereas traditional private sectors do not affordably offer that high of broadband services. As the demand for technology increases, residents, institutions of higher learning, and businesses will continue to need to meet that demand through increased bandwidth.

    • Antonio Pagan, Former Chief Information Officer
    • Alan Wolf, Chief of Staff
    • William H. Dwight, Former Councilor At Large
    • Al Williams, Northampton Open Media
    • Mark Hamill, resident & Northampton Community Network member
    • Carl Townsend, resident & Northampton Community Network member
    • Lee Feldscher, resident & Northampton Community Network member
    • Pennington Geis, resident & Northampton Community Network member
  • Municipal Light Plant

On June 4, 2020, and on May 6, 2021, upon recommendation of the Mayor, the City Council authorized in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 164 of the General Laws and in accordance with the rules, regulations, and orders of the Department of Public Utilities and the Department of Telecommunications & Cable, a municipal lighting plant for all purposes allowable under the laws of the Commonwealth, and more particularly for the establishment a municipal broadband system for the City of Northampton. A separate second approval vote was required if the city decided to implement a municipal broadband project in the future.

  • Background

2016: In an increasingly technological world, the potential for citywide internet has become a point of conversation in many communities. For Northampton, the exploration of this opportunity began in the summer of 2016, when the City of Northampton hired Percipio Industries, LLC, to examine the existing city fiber network for the potential of expanding into a municipal broadband network. The Final Report advised city leadership to explore the creation of a Municipal Light Plant and to conduct a Market and Feasibility Study before considering further options.