RICHMOND – Until recently, Denise Mullen had never had access to high-speed internet at her home in rural Cunningham Hill Road.
“We’ve been on DSL here at home for 10 years,” she said. “Are you old enough to know DSL? It’s not very nice if that’s all you can get. Everybody’s talking about streaming this and streaming that. You can’t do that on DSL. “
Mullen no longer has to worry about DSL. It is now connected to high-speed internet thanks to a project launched by the Berkshires’ last independent telephone company, which would like to bring this capacity to the whole town.
The Richmond Telephone Company has started installing the fiber needed to bring high-speed internet to residents who live in areas where it was unavailable earlier this year. So far, access has been provided to residents who live on a few streets like Cunningham Hill Road, located on both Summit Road and Route 295, where high-speed internet is already available through Spectrum.
But company owner Crista Proper said the company recently installed a fiber pipe to the Richmond Shores area, which it hopes to connect this spring.
Proper’s goal is to eventually provide the entire city with high-speed Internet access.
“We started in kind of an exit strategy where we already had fiber because we jointly own a lot of the poles in town, so it was easy for us to put our own fiber on the poles,” said Proper, who bought the Richmond Telephone Company in December 2020.
“So we’ve done it where it makes sense for us right now,” she said, “where we haven’t had huge spending on infrastructure and we can build from the fiber network that is already there to provide customers in Richmond with the ability to have fiber to the house.”
Proper is the founder, president and CEO of Proper Connections of East Greenbush, NY, owner of Richmond Telephone. It is one of only three independent telephone companies still in operation in Massachusetts, and Richmond Telephone’s roots date back to 1903.
Before starting her own company in 2011, Proper had spent a decade as chief executive of Richmond Telephone when the company was under another owner. She has modernized Richmond Telephone since taking over and believes that providing high-speed Internet access to residences in the city is the best way to keep the business viable.
“We put a lot of money back into the place to get it back on its feet,” Proper said. “Dial tone is obviously something you’re not going to build a business on. Broadband is really where I saw the future.”
The rollout has cost Richmond Telephone about $500,000 so far, according to Proper. She’s interested in applying for federal and state broadband grants to help pay for the project, but Richmond hasn’t been eligible for those funds before.
“We were pretty sure that if we were going to keep Richmond Telephone, we really had to deliver fiber to the house because there’s nothing better than that,” Proper said. “If we’re going to spend money, why spend money upgrading older technology? Let’s just get the best technology we can.”
Taj Monjardo lives on Canaan Road (Route 295), so unlike Mullins, he already had access to high-speed internet through Spectrum. But he accepted Richmond Telephone’s offer to provide fiber anyway.
“I’m just really happy to know that there is a local service that I could call and find someone who lives in Richmond who cares about how my system or local service works, and that the money goes to the locals “, did he declare. .
“I had Spectrum and tried to cancel it and I’m still trying to cancel it four months later,” he said. “That’s why local service is so nice.”
Mullen rated the service provided by Richmond Telephone so far as an “A-plus-plus”.
“They are always available to speak with you and always available to come and see whatever the issue is,” she said.
She watched this year’s World Series on the YouTube TV streaming service, which she couldn’t access with DSL.
“Oh my God, the internet is just fantastic,” Mullen said. “I was using Direct TV here with the satellite service. Now that I have fiber optic I use it less.”
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