Two Berkshire towns have received state grants to design and build their own municipal broadband networks, according to the Western MA Economic Development Council. Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration last week released $4.6 million in total, with Mount Washington receiving $222,000 for an estimated $1.25 million network and Windsor receiving $830,000 for an estimated $2.19 million network. The grants will cover about a third of the cost, with towns borrowing the rest to build fiber optic networks to serve homes and businesses.
The money came from the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development instead of the MBI (Massachusetts Broadband Institute) since the Governor restructured the program last year to allow more flexible options. Part of the solution involved giving grant money to Comcast and Charter to expand their existing cable networks. Towns that want to build their own networks can do so based on a new fast-track template. It was reported that the towns have chosen to work with Whip City Fiber, a division of Westfield Gas & Electric, to engineer and design their networks, and perhaps to oversee construction.