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Amherst, Massachusetts Exploring Fiber for Economic Development Downtown
The Amherst Business Improvement District (BID) recently hired a firm to prepare an engineering study aimed at bringing fiber connectivity to its downtown reports MassLive.
In 2007, the community began offering free Wi-Fi downtown after receiving a grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to build a wireless mesh network. The city worked with UMass Amherst, DARPA, and NSF to deploy the system. In 2013, the city invested in upgrades which increased speeds and extended the network's geographic coverage area.
Community leaders feel Amherst needs fiber to boost economic development now and in the future. Sean Hannon, Amherst Information Technology director, told MassLive:
"Fiber is needed because it's the only medium that can support those speeds at the distance we need. It also should support new network equipment 20 to 30 years from now."
The study will examine optimal routes, methods, and cost estimates for deployment.
The Amherst BID is a nonprofit economic development organization whose members include local property owners, business owners, and residents. Their focus, as defined by the community's 2011 Improvement Plan, is to improve the downtown area through economic development, events, marketing, beautification, and special projects.