Construction, Turnover Complete on New 1,200 Mile Fiber Backbone for Western and Central Massachusetts

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

MassBroadband 123 Network is Connecting Nearly 1,200 Community Institutions to High-Speed Internet

WESTBOROUGH – The Massachusetts Broadband Institute at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MBI) recently completed construction and testing of MassBroadband 123, a 1,200-mile fiber-optic network bringing high-speed Internet access directly to 1,200 key facilities in more than 120 western and central Massachusetts communities. MassBroadband 123 is a critical component of the Commonwealth’s strategy to invest in innovation infrastructure in order to create growth and economic opportunity in every corner of the Commonwealth. 

"Providing every city and town of the Commonwealth with reliable and affordable high-speed Internet is necessary in order to compete in the 21st century global economy," said Governor Patrick. "We have made significant strides toward achieving that goal, and I am thrilled that we are in the final stretch in delivering broadband access to all of our residents." 

All segments of the new network have been turned over to the MBI’s network operator, Axia NGNetworks USA (Axia).  Many community facilities are already using the MassBroadband 123 network, with hundreds more expected to come online over the next several months.  

“Axia is excited to now take the lead on working directly with local service providers to connect key Community Anchor Institutions to the network. We’re thrilled to be a part of providing affordable high-speed broadband across the state,” said Art Price, CEO of Axia NetMedia.

Benefits of this new network include:

  • Creation of a robust regional fiber backbone, providing a platform that can lower the barriers for businesses, institutions, and neighborhoods seeking high-speed Internet access;
  • Opportunities to enhance school curriculums, providing access to virtual field trips, online content such as videos or podcasts, and the opportunities to learn and use digital technologies such as websites, wikis and blogs;
  • Greater bandwidth in libraries so that they can meet the increasing digital needs of local residents, including job searching, assisting with resume writing, computer skills training, serving as a video conferencing hub, and teaching digital literacy to the elderly and disabled; and
  • Improved and enhanced communications by police and fire departments internally, across departments, and with the public; providing reliable, fast access to the state Criminal Information database; and helping departments prepare for next generation 911, which will allow reports to come in via voice, text, email and even videos of an emergency situation.

“We’re grateful to all our partners for their engagement, counsel, and support over the past three years, including the Administration, the Legislature, community groups, and local leaders,” said Phil Holahan, interim director of the MBI. “This coalition has been able to construct a much more robust solution than we ever anticipated, presenting a platform for future expansion and economic opportunity.”

The Patrick Administration and the Legislature created the Massachusetts Broadband Institute as a division within the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative in the Broadband Act of 2008, providing $40 million in state bond funds. In 2010, $45.4 million in federal stimulus funding was awarded to the Massachusetts Broadband Institute at MassTech through the highly-competitive second round of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). The MassBroadband 123 network has been developed through industry collaborations, including network operator Axia NGNetworks USA, network builder G4S, and owner’s project manager Tilson Technologies. 

As the MassBroadband 123 fiber-optic network connects these critical community institutions, the MBI is partnering with state officials and western Massachusetts communities to develop public-private solutions that bring broadband access to more homes and businesses in Western Massachusetts. In 2013, Governor Patrick filed IT bond legislation that contains $40 million in new funding for the MBI to develop last-mile solutions that bring broadband connectivity directly to homes and businesses in western and central Massachusetts communities. 

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QUOTES OF SUPPORT:

United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.): “This is an exciting milestone in the effort to increase broadband access across the Commonwealth for our businesses, schools, government, and families. Expanding broadband access is essential to strengthening the economy in Western Mass. I applaud the Massachusetts Broadband Institute for its great work on the MassBroadband 123 project, and I commend the Patrick Administration for its continued commitment to investing in key infrastructure that supports and grows Massachusetts’ innovation economy.”

United States Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.): "Expanding broadband to central and western Massachusetts will help the Commonwealth compete in the global economy, promote small businesses and create good-paying jobs. It’s critically important that every entrepreneur in Massachusetts, regardless of where they live, have access to the technology that will allow them to bring their ideas from concept to commercial viability.  That’s why I worked to ensure that money in the Recovery Act was allocated for broadband deployment so projects like MassBroadband 123 could be implemented. Bringing broadband to all corners of the state and country will ensure that every American has access to the tools they need to succeed. I applaud the Massachusetts Broadband Institute at MassTech for their leadership and look forward to continuing to work together to strengthen and expand this essential infrastructure for the 21st century."

Massachusetts Technology Collaborative CEO Pamela Goldberg: “This new network is helping to ensure that all regions of the Commonwealth can fully engage in the innovation economy. From entrepreneurship to education, along with communication and digital literacy, MassBroadband123 will have a strong impact on these communities.”

Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities & Energy, Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield): "I am thrilled that we have reached another milestone in our work to ensure universal access to high quality, affordable broadband internet. My hope is that this brings us momentum in our efforts to invest in Last Mile projects and connect residences and businesses directly to the service they need and deserve." 

Senate Majority Leader, State Senator Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst): "Congratulations to MBI, MassTech and Axia on this significant milestone. Broadband access will be an important component of our future economic prosperity and all the partners in this effort are committed to making it available in every corner of the state."

Vice Chair, Committee on Ways and Means, State Representative Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington): “This system activation is a major step toward accomplishing our goal of connecting every community to high-speed broadband and bringing new economic, social, and educational opportunities to even the smallest towns in western Massachusetts.”

MBI Board Member and Executive Director, Franklin Regional Council of Governments, Linda Dunlavy: “The completion of the MassBroadband 123 network is a huge accomplishment. A 1,200 fiber optic network throughout Western and Central Massachusetts offers the region world-class bandwidth that far exceeds our expectations from when we started work over a decade ago. I look forward to continuing efforts to expand broadband connectivity for residents and businesses across the region.”

MBI Board Member and Attorney at Law, Donald R. Dubendorf: "We have fought hard to bring broadband technology to western and central Massachusetts for over a decade, and I’m very pleased to see the project reach this milestone. Access to high speed internet infrastructure is critical our communities, our economy, our future. I’m looking forward to the challenge of working with towns to build on this success and bring access into our neighborhoods and homes.”