In western Massachusetts, 44 small towns continue the push for high-speed, high-quality Internet access. WiredWest (a cooperative of these town’s municipal light plants) has been ramping up the pressure on the state. They need funding to build a regional network, but a state agency has been reluctant to distribute money.
To update everyone on the ever-changing situation, WiredWest has launched a revamped website, focusing on the latest news and most relevant information. Bookmark WiredWest.net to keep informed.
WiredWest and MBI? It’s A Long Story
WiredWest began in 2010 as folks gathered together to bring better connectivity to their unserved and underserved communities. They wanted a regional Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network that would bring future-proof fiber optic technology into their homes. After years of working on business plans and creating a governance structure to represent all the towns, WiredWest hit a major roadblock erected by a state agency.
The Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) is in charge of distributing state funding to project that will improve Internet access in the state. Previously, the agency had built a middle-mile network (which connects community anchor institutes and could serve as a backbone for FTTH networks). When WiredWest asked for state funding to help develop its fiber infrastructure, MBI stalled the process – to the point that even the governor’s administration got involved. The agency has made some decisions about which projects it will help fund, but its choices have been criticized.
A Berkman Center case study, WiredWest: a Cooperative of Municipalities Forms to Build A Fiber Optic Network, delved into the story of WiredWest.