Susan 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
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 of us were part of that moment, participants in historical town […]
Gov. Charlie Baker and Town Leaders Talk Over Video Skype at Stan Rosenberg’s Municipal Conference. Watch and Listen as Town Leaders Tell the Governor What Life Without Broadband is Doing to Their Towns.
“The Baker administration should clear the air regarding its plans for “last mile” broadband Internet money. Doing so would clear uncertainty that now exists for WiredWest’s effort to bring Internet to the county’s smaller towns.”
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 […]
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 the Regional Broadband Operational Plan, 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 the WiredWest Regional Operational Plan 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.
The WiredWest Regional Operational Plan addresses the concerns of some of the member towns and the MBI as follows:
- Ownership of the network […]
WiredWest: our cooperative solution for broadband internet in western Massachusetts
Get the Answers
Q. When will we actually get broadband?
Q. Will subscribers have to keep their Verizon phone service to get WiredWest’s broadband service?
Q. Who controls the subscriber rates?
Q: How does MBI play into this?