In 2011, the MBI issued $335,000 in competitive grant awards as part of ongoing efforts to advance last mile solutions and expand broadband connectivity in underserved areas of Massachusetts. The grants from the MBI’s Last Mile Broadband Solutions Program will help municipalities and broadband service providers deploy new high-speed Internet access in the western and north central parts of the State. Providers will use a wide array of broadband technologies and utilize existing infrastructure, and eventually MassBroadband 123.
The grant recipients were selected through an open, rigorous, and highly competitive process. The MBI funded broadband planning and deployment grants up to a maximum of $50,000 per provider and project, supported by a 25% funding match from the grant recipient. The following municipalities, broadband service providers, and organizations received grants:
Town of Leverett/Crocker Communications - $40,000
The Town of Leverett’s broadband planning project will produce a full, comprehensive fiber-to-the-curb network engineering design and finance plan to serve the entire community with a municipally-owned open access network. This project will expand high-speed Internet access to approximately 2,000 people in 700 households.
Hilltown Community Corp./ WiredWest - $50,000
WiredWest is a local, community-driven effort with the mission of building and operating a regional fiber-to-the home network that offers comprehensive, affordable, reliable and high-quality Internet, telephone, television and ancillary services to all residents, businesses, and institutions of the 47 WiredWest member towns who want service. There are 6,700 households in the project area.
Town of Mount Washington - $40,000
Mount Washington is one of the most geographically isolated and underserved communities in the Commonwealth, located on both the New York and Connecticut borders. The grant is supporting a broadband planning project that will produce a full, comprehensive fiber-to-the-curb network engineering design and finance plan to serve the entire community with a municipally owned open access network. This project will expand high-speed Internet access to approximately 300 people in 150 households.
Town of Royalston - $11,250
Royalston will design a last mile wireless broadband infrastructure to provide broadband access to 100% of the Town’s 1,258 residents. The project will identify the amount, type, and location of towers needed to provide coverage across Royalston’s population.
AccessPlus Communications, Inc. / Savoy - $50,000
AccessPlus, a local Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP), plans to expand its network to provide new coverage to 170 households in the small rural towns of Hawley, Savoy, Charlemont, Florida, and Plainfield. The project will utilize the Borden Mountain Fire Tower as a hub to both serve customers directly and to extend the service to four other outlying nodes. Each of the five nodes will be equipped with both 900Mhz and 2.4Ghz wireless access points.
WiSpring - $44,000
WiSpring will deploy last mile high-speed Internet services in the unserved Town of Tyringham, which will cover approximately 185 housing units (or 70% of the 265 housing units in the community). WiSpring will construct a small tower and deploy a wireless network to expand wireless broadband access in the Town.
Princeton Municipal Light Department - $50,000
Princeton will expand and upgrade its existing network to reach 100 additional households and cover 90% of the Town. The project includes deploying multiple 3.65 GHz antennas on the summit of Wachusett Mountain and receivers on 24 towers throughout the community.
Town of Warwick - $50,000
Warwick will upgrade and expand the existing Town-owned network by installing 3.65 WIMAX transmitters on two existing towers. The Town will also build three portable solar power supplies at remote relay sites to re-propagate signals to homes in the most remote areas.