MBI & Comcast Sign Agreement to Provide Broadband to Montgomery

Thursday, June 22, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MBI & Comcast Sign Agreement to Provide Broadband to Montgomery

  • First ‘Last Mile’ Project Awarded under MBI’s Private Provider Request for Proposals;

  • Agreement Will Provide Comcast a Grant of up to $805,800 to Connect at least 96 Percent of Residences, with No Cost to the Town of Montgomery;

  • Comcast’s Progress Update on Previous MBI Award Shows Projects in Nine ‘Partially-Served’ Towns are Ahead of Schedule, Will Connect Greater Number of Premises than Initially Planned

WESTBOROUGH – The Massachusetts Broadband Institute at MassTech (MBI) signed a grant agreement with Comcast of Massachusetts to design, build, own, and operate a Last Mile broadband network in the Town of Montgomery, the first award made under the MBI’s Private Sector Request for Proposals. Under the terms of the agreement, the MBI will provide an award of up to $805,800 to Comcast to construct the network, which will deliver connectivity to a minimum of 96 percent of residences in Montgomery all at no cost to the town.

The grant from the Commonwealth was approved by the town in April but is contingent on the signing of a Cable Franchise Agreement between the Town and Comcast, which is expected to be completed in the next few weeks.  

“Broadband is key to the economic vitality of the Commonwealth’s rural areas and its availability has been elusive,” said Dan Jacques, Chair of the Selectboard in Montgomery. “We in Montgomery are pleased with the significant progress made towards the goal of bringing broadband to our town. Our sincere thanks to Ed Donnelly, Peter Larkin, and the rest of the team at the Massachusetts Broadband Institute for their work with Comcast and the Town, and to Governor Baker, Lieutenant Governor Polito and their administration for their outspoken support and efforts to deliver broadband to the unserved and underserved communities of Massachusetts.” 

This agreement will save Montgomery an estimated $950,000 in public investment, according to early Last Mile projections. The project will connect 360 premises, according to MBI estimates, with the final figure to be confirmed by the MBI and Comcast during the initial design and engineering phase. If the Cable Franchise Process can be finalized quickly, Comcast will begin design and engineering on the network with the goal of reaching final completion by December 31, 2018.

“For the residents of Montgomery, this award will deliver them broadband connections within 18 months, without increased taxes for the town,” stated Tim Connelly, Executive Director/CEO of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the parent organization of the MBI. “The money saved by the municipality can instead be utilized for economic development, local infrastructure, or other municipal projects that can build off these broadband connections, helping boost development throughout the town.”

“The speed of these projects, removing the need to do a municipal bond, and the overall lowered risk of these public/private partnerships make them the best option for certain towns,” 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. “This grant continues the progress we’ve seen in the Last Mile effort over the last year and we’re hopeful for additional positive announcements over the coming weeks.”

In May 2016, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a new Last Mile leadership team and framework to accelerate implementation of broadband projects in unserved or underserved communities through a more flexible, community-based approach. Since that relaunch, the MBI and the Administration have moved forward numerous towns through partnerships with private providers, including projects with Comcast (highlighted below), and also includes Last Mile Infrastructure Grants provided by the Executive Office of Housing and Economic development for municipal-owned broadband networks in 13 unserved towns, awards announced in May 2017.

“Broadband internet in small, rural towns has been a long time coming, while access to and familiarity with high speed internet has grown increasingly more important in order to thrive in our 21st economy,” said State Senator Don Humason. “I thank Governor Baker, his Administration, and MBI for prioritizing this need, and delivering on a long-held promise to the residents in my district and across Western Massachusetts.”

The MBI’s Request for Proposals that sought qualified private-sector broadband providers is part of the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to work collaboratively with towns to address Last Mile broadband gaps. The RFP requested proposals from firms that have an established track record of financial and technical expertise in the management and operation of residential broadband networks in the U.S.

“Comcast is honored to partner with the Massachusetts Broadband Institute to bring our state-of-the art, fiber-rich network to Montgomery and be able to serve even more homes and businesses in Western Massachusetts,” said Michael Parker, Regional Senior Vice President for Comcast’s Western New England Region.

Comcast’s Makes Strides in ‘Partially Served’ Towns

The grant to cover Montgomery’s network is the second major award made to Comcast under the Last Mile effort. The first was the August 2016 announcement of a $4 million dollar grant under the MBI’s Broadband Extension Program, which aimed to extend high-speed internet coverage in nine ‘partially-served’ towns across Western and Central Massachusetts. Comcast recently provided a status update to the MBI following the initial design phase showing that a total of 1,257 premises will be passed, a 15 percent (168 premise) increase from the total included in the initial agreement with the MBI. There will be no additional cost to the Commonwealth for these additional premises and no cost to the towns themselves for the project overall.

Below are the town by town premise numbers provided by Comcast, highlighting the increase in premises passed, as well as the total percentage of premises that will be served at the completion of the project:

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About the Massachusetts Broadband Institute at MassTech (MBI):

A division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the Massachusetts Broadband Institute at MassTech (MBI) is working to extend high-speed Internet access to homes, businesses, schools, libraries, medical facilities, government offices, and other public places across the Commonwealth, allowing for greater participation in the global economy and civic society. The MBI also promotes broadband usage and adoption by residents and small businesses. Learn more at http://broadband.masstech.org.

About Comcast Cable:

Comcast Cable is one of the nation's largest video, high-speed Internet and phone providers to residential customers under the XFINITY brand and also provides these services to businesses. Comcast has invested in technology to build an advanced network that delivers among the fastest broadband speeds, and brings customers personalized video, communications and home management offerings.  Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company.  Visit www.comcastcorporation.com for more information.