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Wiredwest Releases Analysis Showing Significant Cost Advantage Of A Regional Fiber Network Over Stand-Alone Town Networks

It recently became clear that a rational, data driven analysis comparing the financial impacts of regionalization with towns going it alone was needed for all involved. Only with such a comparison could towns make informed, eyes wide open, decisions on how best to proceed with bringing broadband to their citizens. And this data will assist our elected and appointed leaders in their effort to weigh the pros and cons of the range of solutions to bridge our digital divide. This analysis is now complete and provides an in-depth financial comparison of a regional broadband network model to a standalone model. […]

Gov. Baker, connect us now and release the funding to build our network!

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Our towns are withering. Without broadband, the future of small Western Massachusetts towns is bleak…

We’ve been living on wrong side of the digital divide for years, not able to fully participate in 21st century life and falling further behind year by year. But as last summer came into bloom, it looked like everything was about to change. True broadband—fiber to the home—seemed within our grasp.

Many […]

The Berkman Case Study of WiredWest

ww.berkman study.COVER IMAGEThe Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University is a public policy institute whose mission is to explore and understand cyberspace. Read the Center’s just-released long-researched case study on WiredWest.

WiredWest: a Cooperative of Municipalities Forms to Build a Fiber Optic Network. Western Massachusetts Towns Create a New Model for Last-Mile Connectivity, but a State Agency Delays Approval and Funding plus link to the study

The Hills Are Dead — Without the Sound of Internet Access: Susan Crawford Blog Post

ww.s crawford blog_IMAGESusan Crawford is one of the three authors of the WiredWest Case Study. What Elizabeth Warren is to the Financial Services Sector, Susan Crawford is to Telecommunications Industry and the Internet. In this personal blog she expresses her dismay over the Commonwealth’s handling of the now-stalled effort to bring modern internet infrastructure to rural Western Mass (and indirectly to rural communities all over America).

The Hills Are Dead — Without the Sound of Internet Access sheds light on the national failure to provide high-speed digital access to rural America. link to her blog

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We can bring you broadband if we all pull together.

Notes From the Underserved

Governor Baker and Administration Leaders, MBI, and the Western Mass Legislative Delegation Meet with Unserved Town Leaders

Notes from May 10, 2016 meeting between Governor Baker and invitees from Western Mass

ATTENDEES:

Baker Administration and state officials: Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Polito, Secretary Jay Ash, Carolyn Kirk, (Deputy Secretary of Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development), Sean Cronin (Senior Deputy Commissioner of Division of Local Services [part of DOR]), Peter Larkin (MBI), Bill Ennen (MBI), Ed Donnelly (MBI), Linda Dunlavy (MBI).

Western Mass legislative delegation: Senator Stan Rosenberg, Senator Ben Downing, Rep. Steve Kulik, Rep. Smitty Pignatelli, and Rep. Paul Mark. Other delegation staffers were also in attendance.

Western Mass invitees: Toby Gould (Charlemont Select Board), Kimberly Longey (Plainfield), Charley Rose (Worthington Select Board), Michael DeChiara (Shutesbury Select Board),  Doug Tanner (Wendell Finance Committee), Steve Harris (Middlefield), Thomas Powers (Leverettnet), Joe Boudreau (Worthington Finance Committee).

SUMMARY:

The meeting was officially one hour, 10:00-11:00 am, at the State House in Boston. Governor Baker and Senator Rosenberg left at 11:00 am, but most of the attendees stayed for another hour of discussion.

Gov. Baker promised to get this project back on track; and has increased MBI’s team to include Peter Larkin and Bill Ennen to ideally better manage the project and expedite implementation of the newest last mile plan. Larkin will report directly to Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, Jay Ash. Ash was in attendance but did not speak. Ennen will shift from his current position at the Innovation Institute at Mass Technology Collaborative and will now report to Peter Larkin. Larkin presented a Powerpoint of Baker’s plan.

In the meeting, WiredWest representatives emphasized:

  1. town choice/self determination: we need to be treated with respect and as partners in designing the solutions for our region;
  2. fiber to the home is the best and only proven technological choice and best use of public resources: and the preferred choice for most towns;  
  3. regionalization offers strong advantages in economies and sustainability and enables a greater number of towns to afford a FTTH solution;
  4. the time to act is now: no more studies, no backsliding on issues that were discussed, examined and put to rest during the past 8 years.

TAKEAWAYS:

There were some potential yellow cards (not quite red flags), but substantial caution is warranted.

  • MBI finances are under review; when pressed directly by Ben Downing, there was no clarity about the status of funding or specific town allocations. It is fair to assume funding allocations will change.
  • There is strong emphasis on private sector involvement (behemoth national corporations to sole proprietors are listed as potential partners). This is a catch 22: Private sector involvement means debt service payments will need to come from taxes and higher cost of service, putting towns at greater financial risk and for some towns putting their financing of fiber out of reach. But for towns without any broadband, there is also financial risk from of loss of tax base due to population decline and decreasing property values.
  • There is a range of project models offered, the closest to WiredWest is called “Multi-Municipal Network” . This is more of a consortium approach, incorporating outsourced operations and flexible withdrawal by towns with their physical broadband network assets. The Governor indicated he does not believe a grouping of 20 or 30 towns is practical and would be able to agree on critical decisions over time.  Despite WiredWest’s experience to the contrary, he is convinced that long-term […]
May 13th, 2016|

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