Two weeks ago $19 million dollars was released by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker for broadband expansion into central and western Massachusetts. The entire expansion will cost an estimated $113 -$119 million – the state will ultimately cover approximately one-third of the costs– and the $19 million will be used primarily for planning, at least a one year process.
The next step is for the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) to organize with towns – working out contracts, arranging for grants, and beginning design work. The MBI will work closely with regional broadband planning organization WiredWest, the future operator of the community-owned network.
The MBI and the towns will coordinate with the utility companies in a long process to identify who owns the utility poles on which the fiber optic will be strung and if the poles require replacement, repair, or any changes.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted last month to subsidize Broadband for low-income households which suggests the power and importance that high-speed Internet connectivity holds in our day to day lives. Despite a future hike in taxes, towns have overwhelmingly voted in favor of bringing Broadband to their towns. Residents will have to cover the remaining amount for expansion not covered by the state with a bond amounting in raised property taxes.
6807 in-town backers and 15 of 32 towns met their wired goal to begin bringing broadband to the community. Find out how many signatories are needed and how many signed so far for each Berkshire community HERE.
Read a more detailed coverage of this topic from the Berkshire Edge here.