Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Massachusetts Uses Its Federal Broadband Stimulus Funds to Good Effect

Delivering broadband across the great divide. Project kicks off in Western Mass. (Boston Globe, 7/27/2011)

Excerpt:   Massachusetts is launching an ambitious project designed to bring online relief to broadband-starved communities in the central and western parts of the state, a push that officials hope will deliver on the promise of jobs and economic expansion.

The public-private project, known as MassBroadband 123, will deliver high-speed Internet to 120 cities and towns, many of them rural, and help end the state’s geographic digital divide, Governor Deval Patrick said.

He said the planned installation of 1,300 miles of fiber-optic cable is also one of the largest projects of its kind under construction in the country.

“For too long, families and businesses in Western Massachusetts have lived without reliable and affordable high-speed Internet access,’’ Patrick said in a statement. “Today . . . we start the critical final step in delivering broadband access to everyone.’’

Patrick kicked off the project’s construction yesterday in Berkshire County at the Sandisfield Fire Department, one of nearly 1,400 schools, libraries, hospitals, and public safety facilities lacking reliable Internet service.

The project, expected to take about two years to complete, is being paid for with state and federal funds, including $45.4 million in stimulus funding and $26.2 million in matching state dollars. Network operator Axia NGNetworks USA plans to invest roughly $40 million in the project

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