The deal includes safeguards to protect the public funds being invested in the projects as well as a commitment that Fiber Connect will maintain the network and offer broadband service for at least 10 years after each project is completed.
The multi-stage project aims to be completed this year and will deliver internet connectivity to at least 96 percent of the premises across the four towns, with at least 75 percent of the premises receiving broadband service at speeds that will meet or exceed the federal broadband standard.
MBI will utilize Worthington’s original Last Mile allocation of $1,070,000, with the remaining funds coming from additional investments from both the Commonwealth and the town, utilizing an agreement that will allow the town to contribute year over year without having to use municipal bonds.
“No corporation enters into a sophisticated agreement with the Commonwealth and doesn’t do due diligence on make-ready … They want more money? At what point could that happen again?” — Attorney Bill Solomon
Monterey has been notified of the receipt of a grant from the Massachusetts Broadband Institute as part of the Last Mile broadband initiative to help communities and companies wire towns, but the town cannot access the funds because they were contingent on Charter-Spectrum being the provider.
As part of its Last Mile initiative, MBI will provide Charter with a grant of more than $4.4 million to defray the costs of wiring the rural towns of Egremont, Tyringham, Hancock and Peru. State Rep. Pignatelli also noted that Egremont and perhaps Monterey will have a 1 Gbps connection through Fiber Connect, 12 times faster than what Charter offers in Great Barrington.
Charlie Flynn, who chairs both the town Technology Committee and the Board of Selectmen, said the committee is meeting on Thursday (April 6) at 5 p.m. in Town Hall and the selectmen are slated to decide on a plan on Monday, April 10, at their regular meeting.
While the broadband ball is now rolling, resident Jean Atwater-Williams said she wants to make sure everyone knows where that ball is headed and, in an article in the Sandisfield Times, called for a revote on the new route the town is pursuing.
Mt. Washington is going from almost no Internet and sporadic cell service to faster speeds than even Great Barrington, the nearest large hub town, which is served by cable but not at speeds high enough to support a thriving, 21st-century economy.
During the workshop, WiredWest will present, for the first time, a regional solution for operation of a broadband fiber-to-the-home network in any unserved towns in western Massachusetts that choose to join.
The towns of Sandisfield, New Marlborough, Monterey and Tolland decided to share the pain by hiring an attorney who helped them navigate a legal pathway that would allow the towns to bid out the construction of a fiber optic network and sign a 15-year contract with a service provider to operate it.
Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration is quietly flirting with massive private companies like Comcast to deliver what will likely be inferior and expensive service to rural towns. “It’s a slow-rolling tragedy that will blight Western Massachusetts for generations.”
— Susan Crawford, Harvard law professor and director of the Berkshire Center for Internet and Society
The MBI will allocate $288,775 in grant funding to Alford and $1,145,975 to Otis. The two municipalities will pursue their Last Mile projects independently, and each town’s fiber network will pass every residence and business located on a public right of way.
Great Barrington, partially served by cable, should get broadband downtown, something Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin has said she is working on. “Great Barrington is our business district. For the town to fulfill its potential, everyone in the business district needs fiber.”
— State Rep. William ‘Smitty’ Pignatelli
Mt. Washington, with a population of around 150 full-time residents, is the second town to get MBI “last mile” funding for a “fiber to home” project. The project should be completed by mid-to-late 2017.
The Massachusetts Broadband Institute paid $1.9 million to lawyers and consultants to undermine the WiredWest collaborative of 32 towns seeking to create a viable rural broadband, high speed Internet network.
“A market dominated by the major cable and telephone companies has failed to provide these citizens with what is fast becoming a basic need like electricity or water.”
— The Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, in report recommending the WiredWest 32-town cooperative as the vehicle for providing essential broadband Internet connectivity for rural Western Massachusetts
“We are charting a new course that recognizes that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for the un-served towns in Western Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Broadband Institute will therefore be moving to a more flexible approach.”
— Peter Larkin, new chair of Massachusetts Broadband Institute
“We are deeply concerned over the continuing delays, obfuscations, inadequate communication and lack of transparency, that continue to plague such efforts [to bring broadband to western Massachusetts]”
In a letter to the editor Otis Citizens for Connectivity write: “We here in the ‘Golden West’ are also part of Massachusetts and the 21st century. Without high-speed Internet … there is a negative incentive for businesses to stay or relocate here.”
Local business leaders, innovators, educators, and town and state officials, say that Broadband — also called high-speed, high-capacity Internet connectivity –– is deemed critical for the Berkshires economy to stay afloat and expand.