Highways Dept. now included in high speed network

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 5:15pm

There is now another town anchor institution included in the high speed broadband network: the town Highways Department located on Ocean Avenue. And like some of the other facilities in the network, the new internet speeds are proving that the old equipment the department is using is inadequate to the task due to the new high speeds.

“We have challenges with our older equipment,” said the town’s IT Specialist Michele Spero. “It’s evident the computers there need an upgrade.”

“They have a desktop?” asked Broadband Committee member Ray Torrey at the most recent committee meeting on Sept. 12.

“Yes,” said Spero.

“How old?” asked Torrey.

“Five or six years,” said Spero. She said that some departments may need an “equipment refresh now that we can do a lot more. We need that equipment to meet that capability.”

“We’re going to hear that more: ‘I’ve been connected, but I have some functional aspects to meet that speed,’” said Town Finance Director Amy Land, who has been working with the Broadband Committee.

“That’s the situation at the Library,” said Spero, referencing the fact that Library Director Kristin Baumann has said that the high speed internet incurred some unexpected costs when the old equipment proved inadequate.

The members of the Broadband Committee also recognized the need to form a committee that would represent all the facilities included in the CAI institutions, which now includes Town Hall, the Medical Center, Block Island School, the town Safety Complex, the Island Free Library, the power company, and now the Highways Department.

“It would be this group that could ask how are things going? Can we do anything to facilitate anything for you on the equipment side? That’s the conversation we should be having,” said Land.

The request for proposals currently being written is expected to be issued on Sept. 26, said Spero. “We’ve made a lot of progress,” said Spero. Included in the RFP will be the results of a land survey conducted by Mountain Ltd. that will provide data on the island’s tricky terrain, which will in turn help prospective vendors better estimate the costs of installing the broadband network on a house to house basis.

Those survey results were expected to be delivered to Town Hall on Tuesday, Sept. 17 and forwarded to Mission Broadband, the company that has been hired by the town to write the RFP.