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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Berkshire towns welcome change in Massachusetts Broadband Institute policy

Reprinted from the Berkshire Eagle
By Larry Parnass, lparnass@berkshireeagle.com

“Productive.” “Optimistic.”

After a year in the deep freeze, relations between state officials and broadband activists in Western Massachusetts appear to be thawing.

Leaders of WiredWest used the words above to describe their meeting last week with Carolyn Kirk, the state’s deputy secretary of housing and economic development.

Their session in Northampton came 15 months after a Massachusetts Broadband Institute policy reversal halted earlier collaboration. The gulf opened after a former MBI executive director urged town leaders not to enter into a regional broadband network agreement with WiredWest, citing financial issues.

Since then, tension has characterized relations between WiredWest loyalists and the state.

Last week’s summit is believed to be the first since talks broke down in early 2016 — a crisis that led Gov. Charlie Baker to impose a “pause” in planning for last-mile broadband coverage in unserved communities.

Jim Drawe of Cummington, chairman of […]

April 1st, 2017|

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|

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