Letter: Mark Howell, and fiber, are the right choices 

March 9, 2023

In 2021, while preparing a citizen petition to support our municipal fiber optic network, I crossed paths with Mark Howell, now a candidate for Select Board. Mark recognized that assessing the successes and need for improvement to fiber deployment was appropriate, and agreed that a task force mechanism would clarify citizen-focused policy recommendations. He became the chair of our Fiber Broadband Completion Task Force (FBCTF) and marshalled the Task Force members’ sometimes disparate views into a united work product. Our report was well received by the previously skeptical Light Board, and the Broadband division is now implementing many recommendations. As the former Director of Telecommunications, Mark and other visionaries built Concord’s fiber network from zero. It now serves over 1,600 customers and 80% of town addresses have access.

The need for safe, secure and future-proof broadband with top speeds has never been greater. The FBCTF concluded that this local resource can be implemented in ways that matter to residents and local businesses. Fiber is closely aligned with Concord’s Sustainability Principles. Glass-based strands transmit data with no mined, precious metals, and with less energy than wireless transmission. In contrast to radio towers and small cells, which compete with trees and vegetation, fiber does not require towers or cells. It does not generate electromagnetic fields, avoiding associated health concerns. Mark realized the first homes with fiber access were easier-to-reach single family homes, not multi-dwelling units that are typically less expensive, creating an equity and inclusion issue. On the Select Board, Mark will push for taking up the important topic of fiber expansion and adopting appropriate, citizen-informed recommendations. Moreover, his work on the FBCTF exemplifies an approach to problem-solving that will benefit future Select Board endeavors.

Gail Hire

Nancy Road