NOTE: On April 3, 2017, the Commonwealth and the Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development launched a new grant making program for unserved towns, similar to the existing MassWorks grant programs.
Learn more about the Last Mile Infrastructure Grant Program
The Last Mile Program
The MBI, Baker-Polito Administration, and state Legislature are committed to ensuring all citizens of the Commonwealth can access broadband service. The Last Mile Program is designed to support 44 unserved Western Massachusetts communities with residential broadband access projects.
On May 10, 2016, Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Polito met with Senate President Rosenberg, other legislative leaders, MBI officials and local representatives from unserved municipalities in Western and Central Massachusetts to discuss a strategic pathway forward for the Last Mile program designed to accelerate progress. The Baker/Polito Administration also announced a new Last Mile project leadership team to guide the MBI’s high-speed internet accessibility efforts and appropriately disperse state capital Last Mile funds to approved projects.
The MBI is building a flexible framework that will help all unserved towns achieve broadband access, allowing for a range of project models, including multi-town collaborations, locally-owned networks, and industry partnerships. Many technology and operational choices will be supported, as long as they meet core speed, affordability, and sustainability standards.
Projects covering residents in the 44 remaining unserved Western and North Central Massachusetts communities are eligible to participate in the Last Mile program.
The MBI will support broadband access projects that provide access to minimum speed requirements, demonstrate viable funding and financing plans, and achieve operating sustainability. To that end, the MBI team is engaging directly with unserved towns to assess each town’s readiness to move forward by exploring technology options, funding strategy and operational plans. A fuller explanation of the readiness process is discussed below.
To receive financial support and state approval, broadband access projects must meet minimum baseline requirements:
|Minimum Project Requirements||Technology and Operations|
MBI understands that there is no one-size-fits-all model for all towns. Potential project models for towns to consider include:
|Model A: Expansion by Private Provider||Model B: Extension of Existing Cable Infrastructure||Model C: Multi-Municipal Network||Model D: Independent Municipal Network||Model E: Pilot Projects|
The first step in seeking a project approval is completion of a readiness request form. When the MBI receives a town’s readiness request form, staff will contact the town to discuss timing to initiate the readiness evaluation process. As towns complete the readiness evaluation process, additional towns will be contacted to initiate their process.
Download the Readiness Request Form
Readiness Evaluation Process
The MBI team will work closely with town designees to determine the project readiness status of each eligible town. The readiness process will be collaborative and is intended to result in successful, approved project proposals. Towns will partner with the MBI on an intensive readiness process, requiring best effort by all parties and resulting in a status report, which may produce a project approval recommendation.
Achieving readiness involves a detailed process of collaboration, review, engagement, planning, and evaluation. Elements of readiness for each town may vary. A list of readiness elements is available in the Readiness Request Form.
MBI anticipates that towns are currently varied in their readiness status. Some towns may have completed all of the initial planning stages necessary to move into the execution phase of their last mile projects, while other towns will need assistance in doing so.
The MBI will be engaging in intensive readiness review with towns on a rolling basis.
Each unserved town has assigned a main point of contact for the Last Mile program.