Tuesday, December 6, 2016

MBI Approves $1.9 Million in Last Mile Grants to Support Broadband Expansion in Alford, Otis, Warwick

Following Completion of Readiness Process, Town-Managed Projects Move Forward

WESTBOROUGH – Today the Baker-Polito Administration announced a total of $1.9 million in grant funds for the Towns of Alford, Otis, and Warwick, to finance the construction of high-speed internet networks in the three unserved Last Mile towns. The grant funding, approved today by the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Broadband Institute at MassTech (MBI), is part of the administration’s continued commitment to ensuring broadband access to over 40 Last Mile towns in Massachusetts unserved by broadband internet access.

“Since May, our administration has moved 16 communities forward on the path to broadband access,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We are pleased with this progress, and will continue to work diligently with every Last Mile community, to assist municipalities in reaching their own vision for high-speed internet access.”

“Broadband internet is important in today’s economy, for our students, small business owners and residents across the Commonwealth,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “We are committed to ensuring unserved towns in Massachusetts are able to secure broadband service in a manner that fits their town’s individual needs and goals.”

The MBI will allocate $288,775 in grant funding to Alford, and $1,145,975 to Otis. The two municipalities will pursue their Last Mile projects independently, overseeing the design, construction, and operation of fiber-to-the-home networks. Each town’s fiber network will pass every residence and business located on a public right of way. 

Both Alford and Otis have completed the MBI’s Last Mile Readiness Process, an effort launched in May 2016 to jumpstart efforts to close the broadband gap in 44 remaining unserved towns. Each municipality has achieved several key milestones, including voter approval of municipal financing for the town’s share of project costs, the endorsement of the Massachusetts Division of Local Services on the municipal financing plan and municipalities have also begun the initial construction process. 

The MBI Board also approved a grant of $450,000 to the Town of Warwick to support the upgrade of a legacy, town-owned, wireless network. Warwick will oversee the design, construction and operation of the network upgrade.

The total construction estimate for the project is $690,000, of which $450,000 will be paid for through the town’s construction allocation under the Last Mile program, with the remaining $240,000 will be financed by the Town of Warwick. 

The legacy components of the existing Warwick wireless network were supported by a previous grant from the MBI in 2011. The town intends to make substantial equipment upgrades to its existing wireless systems, moving to implement next generation wireless technologies across several spectrums, including fourth generation (“4G”) Long Term Evolution (“LTE”).  The combination of wireless technologies being implemented will ensure coverage for all town residents and provide broadband level speeds.

“Through these awards, three additional unserved towns are being moved one step closer to sustainable broadband networks,” stated Peter Larkin, Board Chair of the Massachusetts Broadband Institute and Special Advisor to the Secretary of Housing and Economic Development for the Last Mile project. “These grants honor the hard work of staff and volunteers in these three towns, who have dedicated countless hours to moving forward these broadband expansion efforts. We’re eager to work with each town through the construction phases and to continue to lend support as these efforts take flight.”

After today’s approval by the MBI Board, these awards will go for final approval at the next meeting of the Executive Committee of the MassTech Board of Directors. 

MEDIA CONTACT:

Brian Noyes, MassTech/MBI
(508) 870-0312 X: 293, noyes@masstech.org