RICHMOND – Until recently, Denise Mullen did not have access to high-speed internet in her home on Cunningham Hill Country Road.
“We’ve been using DSL here in our house for 10 years,” she said. “Are you old enough to know about DSL? It’s not very interesting if that’s all you can get. Everyone’s talking about broadcasting and streaming this. You can’t do that on DSL.”
Mullen doesn’t have to worry about DSL anymore. It is now connected to high-speed internet through a project initiated by the last independently owned telephone company in the Berkshires, who want to bring this capability to the whole town.
The Richmond Telephone Company has begun installing the fiber needed to access high-speed internet for residents who live in areas that were unavailable earlier this year. Access has so far been provided to residents who live on a few streets such as Cunningham Hill Road, which is off Summit Road and Route 295, where high speed internet is already available through Spectrum.
But company owner Crista Proper said the company recently ran a fiber pipe down to the Richmond Shores area of the city, which it hopes to deliver this spring.
The correct goal is to eventually provide the entire city with access to high-speed Internet.
said Propper, who bought the Richmond Phone Company in December 2020.
She said, “We did it where it made sense to us now that we didn’t have huge infrastructure spending and could build out the fiber network that was already there to provide customers in Richmond with a fiber-to-the-home opportunity.”
Proper is the founder, president, and CEO of Proper Connections of East Greenbush, NY, which owns Richmond Telephone. It is one of three independently owned telephone companies still operating in Massachusetts. The roots of Richmond Telephone date back to 1903.
Before starting her own business in 2011, Proper spent a decade as managing director of Richmond Telephone when the company was under different ownership. She has upgraded 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 company viable.
“We put a lot of money in the place to get it back on its feet,” Propper said. “Obviously, dial tone is something you wouldn’t build a business on. Broadband is really where I saw the future.”
The offering has cost the Richmond phone about $500,000 so far, according to Proper. It is interested in applying for federal and state broadband grants to help pay for the project, but Richmond has not previously been eligible for those funds.
“We were sure that if we wanted to keep Richmond Telephone we really had to fiber the house because there’s nothing better than that,” Propper said. “If we’re going to spend money, why spend money on upgrading old technology? Let’s just have the best technology we can.”
Taj Mongardo lives on Canaan Road (Route 295), so unlike Mullins, he already had access to high-speed internet through Spectrum. But Richmond Vaughn took up his offer to save on fiber anyway.
“I’m really happy to know there’s a local service I can call and get someone who lives in Richmond who cares about how my system works or who cares about my local service, and that the money goes to the locals,” he said. .
“I had a Spectrum and I 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 Richmond Phone’s service so far as “A-plus-plus”.
“They are always available to talk to you and always ready to come out and look into any issue,” she said.
I watched this year’s World Series on the YouTube TV streaming service, which you couldn’t access with DSL.
“Oh my God, the Internet is amazing,” said Mullen. “I used to use Direct TV out here with the satellite service. Now that I have fiber, I use it less.”