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Small towns join forces to bridge the digital divide

PBSNewsHour

Tim Newman (WiredWest Spokesperson and Delegate from New Marlborough) and Bob Labrie (WiredWest Executive Committee, Treasurer and Delegate from Goshen) are interviewed for this piece that showcases the efforts small towns are making to bring high speed internet to rural America.

Click here for a link to the story and accompanying transcript.

While cable companies provide internet services for the majority of Americans in urban areas, many rural residents have been left on the dark side of the digital divide. According to a report by the Federal Communications Commission, 34 million Americans lack […]

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

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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 […]

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

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We can bring you broadband if we all pull together.

Notes From the Underserved

Plan A2 – Proposed WiredWest Structural Framework Change

The WiredWest Board of Directors has unanimously approved a substantial revision to its structural framework in response to concerns expressed by some member towns and by the MBI (Massachusetts Broadband Institute). The changes in Plan A2, as the model is now called, address three specific areas: ownership of network assets, ability of the towns to withdraw from the cooperative and the management of outsourced services.

The simpliest way to understand Plan A2 is to compare the proposed network to the functioning of a single town network. In a stand-alone model, the single town MLP would outsource key services like network operations, ISP services, call centers, technical support, billing and around-the-clock maintenance. The town of Leverett is currently functioning in this manner and has developed an overview of their institutional, contractual and financial arrangements that provides an in-depth look at what’s involved. In addition, the MLP is also responsible for the administrative functions needed to negotiate with, select, manage, monitor and pay the private sector providers of those services. This is where Plan A2 comes into play. Since most towns have neither the administrative staff nor the expertise to handle the responsibilities of running a modern telecommunications network or they prefer not to develop that capacity on a town level, WiredWest will fill that role by functioning as a regional MLP on behalf of member towns.

Plan A2 addresses the concerns of some of the member towns and the MBI as follows:

  • Ownership of the network assets
    Under Plan A2, towns own the infrastructure within their border that they paid for. A town that wishes to withdraw from the network can simply “unplug” from it and operate an stand-alone network.
  • Withdrawal from WiredWest
    Under Plan A2, towns will be able to withdraw at any time after the network has been operational for 5 years without any penalty or necessary approval from the rest of the co-op.
  • Operation of the Network
    Under Plan A2, third party vendors will be providing all services other than those required by an MLP managed by WiredWest on behalf of the towns. In other words, Network operations, ISP services, call centers, technical support, billing and 24/7 maintenance may be outsourced.

Under Plan A2, a regional solution will result in lower costs to customers. WiredWest has recently completed a comprehensive analysis on the benefits of regionalization that supports this view.

WiredWest looks forward to working with the new MBI management team and engaging in an exchange of ideas in order to mutually arrive at a solution that will make fiber to the home affordable to the largest number of towns possible.  The WiredWest structure has always been fluid in order to accomodate the needs and concerns of all stakeholders, including member towns and the state as represented by the MBI.  The changes to our structure detailed in Plan A2 are representative of that flexibility.

June 15th, 2016|

Notes From the Underserved Archive

WiredWest: our cooperative solution for broadband internet in western Massachusetts

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