By Alan Burke Staff writer
The Salem News
---- — PEABODY — Two companies are vying to install high-tech wiring on Peabody streets, and the result could be a double benefit for the city.
Work by Bay Ring Communications and Waveguide could spark competition and increase the communication capacity of local businesses, making Peabody a more attractive location. In addition, they could crack open the door for consumers seeking less expensive access to the Internet and cable television.
Bay Ring Communications won approval to tie onto Peabody power poles at last week’s City Council meeting, pending final agreement with the Peabody Municipal Light Plant.
Until now, said Bay Ring director of operations Steve Bond, his organization provided fiber optic cable for companies in New Hampshire. Now they’re seeking to expand into Massachusetts. “We’re an independent company,” he added. “And we’ve been in business for 14 years.”
Their wires link businesses, hospitals and municipalities like Derry. Bond assured the council that while wiring Peabody would be done in cooperation with the Light Plant, the entire cost would be borne by Bay Ring. Moreover, an annual payment would be made for the use of the poles.
Bond said Bay Ring will begin seeking additional customers at once. “We have no debt,” he explained. “We build based on our growth.”
Councilor Dave Gravel cited a pressing need for better communications in sections of the city, particularly in Centennial Park where “there are several dead ends that make it difficult for business.” Medical information, for example, requires fast speeds and the transfer of large amounts of information. Without that, he said, “No one’s going to want to go there.”
In addition, Gravel mentioned the absence in Peabody of Verizon’s FiOS, one of the cable television and Internet providers that have brought competition to those fields and helped keep prices lower. “Maybe it will incentivize Verizon to put FiOS here. I don’t understand why we don’t have it.”
Gravel was cited by a fellow councilor as an expert in the computer field. After the meeting he lauded the agreement. “This a great thing. The poles are already there.”
In addition to prodding more competition, he noted that the Bay Ring technology is a rung above what Comcast currently provides, making it easier to branch off to areas of the city that might be underserved. “They bring the fiber closer to the access point.”
Milton Burnett of the city’s cable television committee stresses that, “We are a welcoming committee for competition.” Verizon balked at providing FiOS, he explained, when the company put a freeze on expanding the service to any more communities. That, said Burnett, left Peabody with only Comcast and two satellite services to choose from.
The agreement with Waveguide, meanwhile, has not reached the stage where it has been sent on for City Council approval. It’s anticipated, according to a letter by Light Plant manager Glenn Trueira to the council, that Waveguide will require fewer poles for a project stretching down Route 1 into Lynnfield.
“As far as we are concerned,” said Trueira, “I don’t believe there are any serious roadblocks on our end with regard to allowing these two companies to attach to our poles. As long as they follow the proper procedures and pay the appropriate fees.”
Bay Ring wires would be installed at nearly 400 poles on Broadway and on Lynnfield, Lynn, Washington, Foster, Church, Chestnut, Lowell, Endicott, Pulaski, Salem and Walnut streets. Some 17 poles would have to be replaced to accommodate the new load.