Notes From the Underserved

Towns Express Overwhelming Support for WiredWest and WG&E at MBI PP Open Meeting

On February, 16, 2017 the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) held an open meeting to hear from MBI town designees and local Select board members about their thoughts regarding the results of the Private Provider RFP. The meeting took place at the Worthington, Massachusetts Town Hall.

Select board members and designees wishing to speak were asked to RSVP to MBI Deputy Director Edmund Donnelly, as each speaker was limited to 3 minutes.

Over almost a 2 hour period, one town after another told the MBI they wanted 3 things:

  1. Let the towns work with Westfield Gas & Electric to build their networks
  2. Release to each town their full allocation of the $40 million appropriated for the last mile build for both construction and professional services
  3. Allow the towns to work regionally with WiredWest if they choose.

Part 2

 

February 26th, 2017|

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Towns pleased with changes to state broadband funding

Reprinted from The Recorder
By DIANE BRONCACCIO , Recorder Staff
Thursday, March 30, 2017

Local officials say they hope the state’s revised broadband policy will break the gridlock on which the internet build-out for unserved towns has stalled over the last two years.

“This new grant program is a huge step forward for last-mile broadband,” said Bob Handsaker, co-chair of the Charlemont Broadband Committee. “It ensures that all of the currently allocated state funds are fully available to towns that want to build their own fiber-to-the-home networks. More importantly, each town can control how those funds are used, allowing the town to select their own partners, minimize risk and make the state funding stretch as far as possible,” said Handsaker.

The state designated $40 million for 41 towns with no access to high-speed internet service — a sum that would cover about a third of the costs of bringing broadband to homes and […]

March 30th, 2017|

Back regional broadband, towns tell MBI panel

By Larry Parnass, Reprinted from The Berkshire Eagle

WORTHINGTON — Broadband advocates from Berkshire County and beyond pressed Thursday for the Massachusetts Broadband Institute to free up funding, speed decision-making and support regional solutions to a problem they say impairs civic life.

Their sometimes sharply worded remarks took frequent aim at the MBI itself, saying the agency assigned the job of bringing broadband to dozens of unserved communities has too often changed its rules, frustrating dogged local efforts to end the digital dark ages.

“We’ve endured a constant state of flux,” said Howard Bronstein of Plainfield.

Peter Larkin, the MBI board chairman and former Pittsfield lawmaker, joined the institute’s deputy director, Edmund Donnelly, and field representative Bill Ennen at a head table.

For nearly two hours, they heard a litany of distress.

Among the toughest appraisals of the institute’s performance came from David Kulp of Ashfield, who leads that Franklin County town’s broadband committee.

“After […]

February 17th, 2017|

WiredWest Offers New Proposal For Western Mass. Broadband

By JIM LEVULIS, WAMC – Original post on WAMC.org

Efforts to bring broadband internet to underserved areas of rural, western Massachusetts have been ongoing for more than a decade. Now the regional cooperative WiredWest has a new proposal. It comes after Governor Charlie Baker’s administration shook up and reviewed the efforts of the Massachusetts Broadband Institute.

WAMC spoke with Bob Labrie, a member of WiredWest’s executive committee, and Tim Newman, the group’s spokesman. Newman says the proposal calls for WiredWest to administer the regional internet network with private providers handling the operations.

The Massachusetts Broadband Institute did not respond to a request for comment on the plan.

January 31st, 2017|

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