Woodstock has signed an agreement with Archtop Fiber which will offer residents and businesses another choice high-speed Internet and telephone service, the town board announced at its February 21 meeting. The company, based in iPark 87, formerly TechCity, will begin running fiber in Woodstock regardless of the town government’s involvement. But it seeks that involvement, particularly to be able to serve less dense areas.
Archtop’s team is not new to the industry. “We have been in the Internet service, telephone and cable industry for all of our careers,” chief development officer Shawn Beqaj told the town board.
Archtop has recently acquired some older family-run companies including Germantown Telephone Company and Hancock Telephone Company. A $350-million private investment provides Archtop robust capital. The company has already approached many mid-Hudson municipalities.
Archtop will provide full fiber to the home for up to a ten-gigabit connection, faster than any other provider. “We will be offering this quite soon. We are in the process of getting permits from Central Hudson Gas and Electric as we speak,” Beqaj said.
Construction will begin in May, with availability to customers starting in June.
“Between twelve and 18 months after that, we will be building out about 2508 miles of fiber throughout the region. And that will be in the denser downtown areas to about 140,000 locations,” he predicted. “We will be offering that service as a competitor, [and] that tends to have a depressive effect on pricing.”
Where possible, Archtop will cut a narrow 24-inch trench beneath the side of the roadway to bury fiber. In less dense areas, the company will run fiber on exiting utility poles. It plans to partner with municipalities to bring the service to less dense areas.
“We are partnering with municipalities because our network, our model works to about ten to twelve homes per mile. If it costs us about $75,000 to put a mile of fiber up, and there are dozen people on that, we need to figure out a way to make a return on that for our investors. Below ten or so, the model gets shaky,” he said.
“We have to pay property taxes,” he continued. “We have to pay Central Hudson Gas and Electric $28 for every pole that we attach to. We have to pay the Department of Transportation fees to be in the right-of-way. And if you have fewer than ten homes per mile, let’s say half of those people become customers. It costs more for the fiber to exist, never mind build it, than we would get a return on that.“
Archtop had already approached most of the other local municipalities and the county and state levels.
Archtop says its service is also more resilient against storms because it is not reliant on the power grid, unlike Spectrum. “We use no power whatsoever, other than the lasers that generate the light, and termination devices in your house, that take that light and convert it back into data,” Beqaj said. Its devices inside homes have a 24-hour battery backup, he said. “So while other services go down, ours tend to stay up.”