Is Community Broadband an Alternative to Our High Cost Internet?

Belmont residents and businesses have two choices when it comes to broadband Internet service: Verizon and Comcast. But what if a third option existed: community owned broadband. Fourteen Massachusetts communities have already adopted it. Could Belmont be the next? Belmont’s own Michael Crowley explains how municipal broadband works and why it might be a good option for Belmont to consider. 

When it comes to Internet Service Providers (ISP’s), we in Belmont are mostly left with one of two choices: Verizon’s FiOS fiber optic service or Comcast’s Xfinity. Outside of these two dominant players, there just aren’t any other good alternatives.

Both companies have locked in most of the households in our community with short term teaser rates, after which the cost of internet service rises dramatically. Most of us learn to live with this—and generally through resignation. Or, we resign ourselves to the hassle of calling our ISP and threatening to shift to the other provider, finally negotiating for a temporary and minor discount. (I just renegotiated for a slight $5 a month discount with Verizon.)

Michael Crowley

Michael Crowley is a Belmont Resident and a member of the Town’s Warrant Committee.

But what if there was another way to get Internet Service without the aggravation of negotiating with two market behemoths?  A way to receive a competitive service at a competitive price? Some Massachusetts communities have found just such an alternative in something called “community broadband.”

Community broadband is a publicly owned and financed alternative that’s already found a home in several Massachusetts communities, including nearby Concord. In the case of Concord, the town’s light department has strung fiber optic cable on the very same electrical utility poles that the town owns, creating Concord Light Broadband, a publicly owned fiber optic network serving businesses and residents in that town with Internet service at speeds up to 200 Mbps (megabits per second) for homes and 300 Mbps for businesses. Prices are competitive with commercial providers like Verizon and Comcast, though those services do offer higher speed plans.

Summer Improvement Project: the Couch to Dan Scharfman 5K Program

Couch to 5K

Want to run in Belmont’s Fall Classic? Sign up for the Dan Scharfman Couch to 5K!

Hey Blogging Belmont readers. We’re mid Summer and I have a great summer improvement project for you: yourself! The registration for Belmont’s Fall Classic, the sixth annual Dan Scharfman Memorial 5K and 2K events is now officially open along with the first ever Couch to 5K Program, which will kick off in mid August. This is a great idea for first-time or novice runners who want to run a 5K.
The six week program kicks off in mid August under the direction of Scharfman race co-director, ultra marathoner and past Dan Scharfman overall winner – Belmont’s own Scot DeDeo. The email and group training program will provide you with daily workouts that build you up to the 5K distance along with weekly training emails from Scot with training and conditioning tips, advice and war stories.
Scot DeDeo

Belmont’s own Scot DeDeo, an ultra-marathoner and past overall winner of the Dan Scharfman 5K will be your coach for the Couch to 5K program

Participants will also take part in three group training runs — all part of the journey that takes you from your living room couch to the finish line at the 6th Dan Scharfman Memorial 5K on September 30!
The six week Couch to 5K program costs $80 and includes one adult entry to the Dan Scharfman 5K (a $35 value). As with all our tickets, all proceeds benefitting the Belmont Education Foundation
About the Scharfman Race
If you’re an experienced runner, the Scharfman 5K, is a great tune-up race to test speed and strength before a half or full marathon. The 2K (1.24 mile) race is ideal for children of all ages. This is a common distance for Middle and High School cross country races and we encourage individuals and teams to participate in this exciting race.  So go ahead, make the commitment, and sign up now. Make it a family day out and sign up your spouse and children. Encourage your neighbors, both seasoned runners and novices, to come out for a great cause. Or make it a team event and sign up with your local sports club. Join the hundreds of other runners who can boast “I Ran the Dan!!”
Registration is simple. Just follow this link to our registration site, hosted by Racewire. Or, to learn more about the race, visit http://www.fbe-belmont.org/race .

Belmont Porchfest Meet & Greet Thursday

Somerville Porchfest

A scene from one of Somerville’s recent Porchfest celebrations

Belmont will host its first Porchfest on September 8. Want to learn more? There’s a meet and greet at Belmont Books on Thursday evening, July 12th starting at 5 pm!

You may not know it, but Belmont is becoming the latest town to host its own “porchfest,” along with peer communities like Somerville, Arlington, Jamaica Plain and more. Porchfests are daylong celebrations of music and community, with impromptu concerts scattered around town on front lawns and, yes, porches.

Porchfest Belmont Books Meet and Greet

Come learn more about Porchfest Thursday evening at Belmont Books!

Belmont’s Porchfest is scheduled for Saturday, September 8th and, already, there are 22 performances scheduled across 28 porches in town. The event already has the backing of Belmont Savings Bank and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.  The organization is looking to grow that number by the time September rolls around to give everyone in town the chance to experience great, live music.

If you’re interested in learning more, there’s a Meet & Greet with the Porchfest organizers tomorrow (Thursday) evening at 5PM at Belmont Books. Come by and learn about the event and get any questions answered about participating or just attending the first annual Belmont Porchfest!

As with any big event, Porchfest’s organizers are also looking for volunteers from the community to make the event a success.

The organizers are looking for people willing to perform, host performances, volunteering and fund raising. Let’s make Belmont’s first Porchfest a great success. I’ll see you there!