by Susan Crawford. Reprinted from BackChannel. Read the original article.
It may be the governor. In the State House. With the lobbyists.
This is the story of a dramatic failure of imagination and vision at the state level: Governor Charlie Baker’s apparent insistence that Massachusetts relegate small towns to second-rate, high-priced, monopoly-controlled (and unregulated) communications capacity. It’s a slow-rolling tragedy that will blight Western MA for generations. The likely outcome: Only those plucky, scrappy towns that elect to build on their own will escape the grip of unconstrained pricing for awful service.
The rest will fade into irrelevance.
What new American generations will stay in a place that is essentially unconnected to […]
The 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
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. It includes an […]
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 access to high speed Internet — 23 million of them […]
MBI was initially funded and created by emergency legistlation in 2008 with a mandate to bring broadband internet service to all 45 unserved communities. Instead, they spent $80M building the MB123 middle mile to 123 communities which they claimed would attract private companies to finish the last mile. It never did and now is a hindrance to a regional last mile network. With the second round of funding in 2014, they first said they would build a regional network that WiredWest would own and operate, then a year later they reversed and wanted each town to build and own it’s own network, now they want private partnerships. With all uncertainty about policy, towns and companies cannot make progress.
The recent Municipal Modernization act requires that priority be given to regionalization. Experts who have looked at this, e.g. the Harvard University Berkman Institute’s Case Study of WiredWest, the CTC report, even MBI’s own technical staff, have all recommended a regional approach as the most efficient and cost-effective way to make broadband available to the most communities.
Yet, despite all this, MBI resists this and encourages towns to either accept having their allotment of state funds spent on a network owned by an unregulated monopoly private company, or else to build and operate an independent network. Some of their policies impede regionalization. For example, they require each town to individually connect and utilize the MB123. This negates many of the advantages of a regional network. MBI has refused multiple offers by WiredWest to work on […]
By Steve Nelson
(reprinted from Berkshire Eagle, Broadband effort gets back on track, October 12, 2016 )
You will soon see work crews standing around utility poles, gazing upward. They’ll not only be checking the cables on those poles, but looking as well toward the future of broadband in western Massachusetts.
The long-awaited project to bring high-speed internet service to unserved homes and businesses in Berkshire and adjacent counties is once again on track. Last winter Gov. Baker put the project on hold and under review, after it had run off the rails. In the spring he appointed two new key executives at the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI), the agency responsible for the state’s participation. His mandate to them: get it moving.
To get started, tens of thousands of utility poles in the region must be surveyed. Is there enough room on each pole for a new fiber-optic cable, will the existing cables on a pole have to be moved to accommodate the new one, or is a new taller pole needed to provide the required space?
Since the summer, town representatives have been working with MBI to better understand the financial implications of building a fiber network in their towns and to demonstrate their eligibility to proceed. A few towns like Washington have already completed this readiness process, and many others are well underway. MBI began the first pole surveys in Ashfield last week, with other towns to follow in steady succession.
Despite the sometimes acrimonious relationship between towns and MBI last winter, I can say […]
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