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.
Straight From the Horse’s Mouth
For the latest on the situation, check out the WiredWest website, WiredWest.net, to hear straight from the communities most directly affected. In addition to news coverage, the cooperative offers reports, notes on recent meetings, and ways for you to support their efforts.