PELHAM –Lt. Governor Karyn Polito joined leaders from nine western and central Massachusetts communities to celebrate the completion of the Broadband Extension Program, a project funded under the Commonwealth’s Last Mile program. The celebration took place in the Pelham Library and was attended by executives from Comcast, which oversaw expansion of broadband networks in nine towns in western and central Massachusetts, leaders from the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI), and community leaders from the nine communities.
In August 2016, the Massachusetts Broadband Institute at MassTech (MBI) awarded a grant of up to $4 million to expand service to at least 96 percent of premises in nine targeted towns: Buckland, Chester, Conway, Hardwick, Huntington, Montague, Northfield, Pelham, and Shelburne. Comcast completed the project within the two-year timeline and exceeded the target of 1,089 premises, which would have increased broadband coverage to 96 percent or more of premises in each of the nine towns. Comcast greatly exceeded the target, delivering high-speed internet connectivity to 1,303 homes and business across the nine towns, beating the target by 214 premises, nearly 20% more than originally planned. The additional premises were covered under the original grant, meaning there was no extra cost to the Commonwealth.
“It’s clear how these broadband connections can have immediate positive impacts in previously underserved communities in the Commonwealth and our administration is proud to have made significant progress in these areas,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The best measure of the impact of this program is the feedback from community leaders and the residents who are benefiting from this expanded connectivity and we look forward to continuing to deliver access to reliable, high-speed internet in homes and businesses in Massachusetts.”
“The Broadband Extension Program is a great example of a public-private partnership working extremely well to create more opportunities and access for Massachusetts residents,” said Lt. Governor Polito. “We were pleased to work with Comcast, who met the two-year timeline we set to deliver critical 21st Century broadband connections to more homes and businesses.”
The Commonwealth’s Last Mile program aims to expand connectivity to 44 unserved towns and the nine ‘partially-served’ towns covered by the Broadband Extension Program. Following the relaunch of the program in May 2016, the MBI and the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development have awarded over $31 million to move forward Last Mile towns, with 42 towns moving forward on broadband networks, including projects to construct municipal-owned fiber-to-the-home networks and grants for private providers to expand networks in unserved and partially-served communities.
“The completion of this cable expansion project signifies Comcast’s commitment to bringing high-speed Internet access, including Gigabit service, to more residents and businesses in unserved areas of Western Massachusetts, and underscores our dedication and investment in the Commonwealth,” said Michael Parker, Senior Vice President for Comcast’s Western New England Region, which includes Western Massachusetts.
“The access to internet immediately improved the quality of life for many residents,” said Kevin Hart former Chairperson of the Montague Broadband Committee. “The technology that allows professionals to work from home is common place and the day my internet was installed I no longer had to go to the office. That is 10-12 hours I get back for my family. I have heard touching stories from people who now have internet of less stressful homework, longer visits from loved ones who need internet access to work. Since I moved to Montague I realized these hill towns are full of incredibly talented individuals. Those individuals are now turning great ideas into businesses. They are not spending their time and money 45 minutes away in an office. They are spending it in their community.”
About the Massachusetts Broadband Institute
A division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (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. Learn more at https://broadband.masstech.org.