It’s been a while since you saw those “LymeFiber” trucks on the roads in town, and you may be wondering what’s happening with the project. Here’s an update.
Those trucks were doing a pole census – noting the precise location and condition of each of the 2,000 utility poles in Lyme where LymeFiber will need to string the fiber-optic cable. With that census complete they now enter the next phase of the project – a phase that can be the most time-consuming and expensive part of the whole project. And at this point it’s all behind the scenes.
It’s called the make-ready phase. Following rules established by the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission, LymeFiber LLC negotiates with each utility who owns those poles to make any changes needed so that LymeFiber can add their cable to the poles. In many cases nothing needs to be done, but often the wires need to be relocated on the poles. If the poles are old or damaged, a whole new pole might be needed.
The timing and cost of this work – yes, LymeFiber pays – has to be negotiated. That’s what they’re working on now. They have agreements in place from Eversource and New Hampshire Electric Coop; they expect to have an agreement soon from Liberty Utilities. However, negotiations with Consolidated Communications, Inc., (CCI) are proving more complex. CCI rightly sees LymeFiber as competition. The good news is that the team at ValleyNet, the construction and operations manager for LymeFiber, has lots of experience dealing with these problems. They are confident that they will eventually get an agreement from CCI.
Once they have Pole Attachment Agreements from all the utilities, the actual make-ready work on the poles can begin. When that happens, you will again see utility crews working on the poles. The goal is to have all the make-ready work done by the end of this year. Then the comparatively straightforward task of stringing the fiber-optic cables can begin. The timing will depend on the weather; work usually has to stop during mud season. The goal is still to start connecting customers in summer 2020.
We’re grateful to all the people who have supported the project through the no-obligation sign-up. If you haven’t signed up yet, you can still do so at our website at LymeFiber.net.