Cummington Connect Updates!

September 2020

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Week of September 27, 2020

September 27, 2020

Dear Cummington Residents,

We are happy to say that the construction phase of the project, all the infrastructure, is scheduled to be completed by the end of this coming week, by October 2. It has been a pleasure to work with Dave Poplawski and his TriWire construction crew and look forward to seeing more of the TriWire installation crews in town.

The Good News We have 107 premises activated! Another 72 are on the schedule. That will bring us up to just over 51% of the service customers connected. With the increase in installation crews, we should average about 25-28 installs/week, barring any unforeseen issues. Cold drops will be done after the service drops.

Part 2 of the good news, 103 underground conduit constructions are complete with 23 more on the schedule.

This is important: If you have underground service and you are NOT scheduled, please call and get on the schedule. There are some folks that are really hard to contact, like they've been called 7-9 times... We understand that not everyone will pick up a number that they don't recognize or perhaps have changed numbers, but it's Fall and we have to get this done. If you have not received a call, please call customer service, 413-485-1251.

What's next?

Patience. We are coming to the home stretch. Installations will take longer than anyone wants. WG&E and TriWire are working to try to rectify the bottleneck, but "it is what it is".

We post where the crews will be every day on the main page of the town website under Recent News, as well as on both Facebook and Twitter.

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Broadband Signup Deadline

We are coming to the end of the project. Due to COVID and construction delays we have been very flexible so far, but now we need to stick to solid deadlines for changes. The deadline for anyone to switch from a cold drop to a service drop is December 1st. We recently sent letters out to homeowners who had not signed up at all, but are included in our design plans. The deadline for those homeowners is October 1st. After these dates, the town will no longer subsidize the construction or installations.

Just go back to the WCF sign up page and put in your changes, call WCF customer service ,1-413-485-1251, or email the MLP committee and we can help you out.

Find My FSA

We often refer to these FSAs as if everyone knows what we are talking about and which FSA (Field Service Area) they are in. Here's a link to quickly check to see which area your home is in.

Billing Q/A

How to Pay

You must pay your bill electronically to our internet service provider - Whip City Fiber. Payment can be made either through electronic fund transfer from your bank account or you may pay by credit card.

We encourage you to use automatic payments from your bank account (EFT). This saves you and the town money and ensures you don’t miss a payment, which could result in service disconnection. You will have the option to pre-pay your account if you so choose.

Payment by cash or check is not an option due to the costs involved. We hope you are already accustomed to automatic bill paying for other household expenses.

How You Will Be Billed

Whip City Fiber will issue electronic invoices to the email address you provide. You must provide an email address to sign up for service. There is no option for paper bills. This is to ensure costs of operating our network are as low as possible (plus it saves trees!).

Bills are due upon receipt. There is a 10-day grace period, after which time your account will be deemed in default, service will be suspended, and a reconnection fee will be charged.

Questions about your bill? Please call WCF customer service ,1-413-485-1251.

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What if your power goes out? Backup Power

Keeping Internet and Phone Working When the Power Goes Out

In Cummington, power outages happen. That’s why the Cummington Connect network hub is built with both battery backup power and an automatic propane generator to keep it running even during extended power outages. However, each subscriber to the broadband service needs to take steps to ensure there is back up power in the home, otherwise Cummington Connect/Whip City Fiber internet won't reach you during an Eversource power outage.

If you already have a home backup generator, you are all set! If you don’t have a backup generator, you may want to consider purchasing a battery pack called an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) into which you plug your Internet and telephone equipment so it keeps working when the Eversource power is out.

You need to provide backup power for the Optical Network Terminal (small white box that may be located in the basement or on the first floor), SmartRG WiFi Router (usually on the first floor near the middle of your house), Ooma Telo (flat black box with a blue logo), and your cordless telephone base station, unless you use the Ooma HD3 handset or an old wired phone. If this equipment is all in one place, you will just need one UPS. If some is in the basement and some on the first floor (or other configurations), you will need a separate UPS for each location.

Many retailers that carry computer or electronic accessories (e.g., Amazon, Staples, Walmart) sell UPS battery devices ranging in price from $40 to $200 or more, depending on how long you want to keep things running.

Old Copper Wires and New Fiber Optic Glass Strands

For over 100 years, telephone calls were made over copper wires that connected homes and businesses to a central telephone office. Those copper wires carried not only voices (and eventually data), but also enough electricity to make your telephone work even if your home’s electrical power went out. They could do this because the central telephone office had backup generators.

Cummington’s fiber optic network is designed to be much more resilient than that. Our broadband hub at 2 Main Street includes both an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) battery backup) and a propane standby generator. When the power goes out, the batteries in the UPS continue to power the equipment in the hub while the generator starts up to provide long-term power. In our testing, everything keeps running without losing a beat.

So, when the power goes out, we will still be sending pulses of laser light down the glass strands in the fiber optic cable to your home to provide Internet and telephone. But, without copper wires, we cannot send you any electricity! So, how do you keep your telephone and Internet running in a power outage?

Battery Backup for Home Equipment

Since most power outages in Cummington last just a few hours, the first thing you need is one or more Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS). A UPS contains a backup battery, an inverter to turn the battery power into AC, a surge suppressor, and a power strip, all in one box. Why might you need more than one? To keep your Internet and/or telephone service up, you will need to make sure the following equipment is plugged into a UPS. If it is all in one place, you will just need one UPS. Most people will have this equipment in different places, so you will need a UPS for each location where you have electronics.

  1. Optical Network Terminal. This small white box turns fiber-optics into electronics. For many homes this will be located in the basement. For people without basements, or with wet, fieldstone basements, this may be somewhere on the first floor. It uses about 10 watts.
  2. WiFi Router. This black SmartRG device lets you connect computers and other devices to the ONT, and is often on the first floor near the middle of your house. Uses about 30 watts.
  3. Ooma Telo. This black box with a blue logo on the top connects your telephones to the SmartRG router. Uses about 4 watts.
  4. Cordless telephone base station. If you are using cordless telephones, this is the part the plugs into the Ooma Telo. Varies by model, but usually less than 5 watts.

What size UPS do I need?

Since UPS units are sized both for the maximum load they can supply (how much equipment you want it to power) and the length of time they can support that load (how long you want it to run), calculating the run-time that you will get from different UPS models for your situation is complicated. The easiest way is to use run-time calculators provided by the manufacturers. For example, here are calculators for two of the more popular brands.

It is important to note that more expensive UPS units may focus on providing higher short-term maximum loads and NOT longer run-time. The easiest way to get more runtime is sometimes to purchase multiple less expensive units and plug each piece of equipment into its own UPS.

If your ONT is in the basement and needs a separate UPS, even the least expensive models will give you many hours of run-time, as the ONT uses only 10 watts. However, since the WiFi router uses 30 watts, that same model would provide just a third as much run-time. And, if all of your equipment is in one place, you could be using almost 50 watts and a mid-range model may provide just an hour of run-time.

Here is just one example:

If all of your equipment is in one location, your power consumption would be 10+30+4+5 or about 50 watts. The APC model BE550G costs about $80 on Amazon, and APC says it will power 50 watts for 68 minutes. The CyberPower CP800AVR costs about $90 on Amazon, and CyberPower says it will power 50 watts for 85 minutes.

But what if I want to keep everything running for many hours or days?

UPS battery backup systems are designed for brief power outages. If you want to keep the power on for hours or days, the best approach is a combination of a UPS for short-term standby power, and a generator for long-term power. When your electrical contractor is designing your generator setup, be sure they know that your Internet and telephone equipment are crucial appliances that need to be powered during an outage.

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Streaming... what is it? Is it part of the broadband service? Can I get rid of my dish? What channels does it get? So many questions...

Hopefully this link to the streaming information from Whip City can help answer many of those questions.

Whip City Fiber: How to Start Streaming

Progress Tracking Week ending September 25

This is quick video of the progress tracker for the entire project. The colors correspond to various stages of construction from make-ready, to fiber placement, splicing and testing. If it's blinking, it is in progress. The map is updated constantly and shows us where we are in the project. Green means it is all tested and ready to be released to WG&E, who then does final testing and releases it for installations.
project tracker 9.26

Cummington MLP

Allan Douglas, MLP Manager

Maureen Tumenas

Scott Keith

Brenda Arbib

Mike Perkins

Having trouble? Who do you call?

Once things are up and running... If your internet is down- call Whip City 413-485-1204

If your power is out- call Eversource: 800-592-2000

If your landline is out- call Verizon: 1-800-922-0204