WESTBOROUGH, MA – Today, the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) launched a public comment period to gather feedback about the state’s Internet for All Plan. In order to deploy over $145 million in funds towards broadband and digital equity allocated to the state through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, MBI is gathering input from residents, municipalities, and organizational stakeholders across Massachusetts both online and via mail. A year of planning efforts has established two documents to guide the state’s Internet for All Plan – a Statewide Digital Equity Plan and the Initial Proposal for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program.
Residents are encouraged to review the plans and provide direction, suggestions, and data in response to direct future digital equity efforts and community investments. The Executive Summary of these plans is available in English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, and Simplified Chinese.
Plan 1: Statewide Digital Equity Plan (SDEP)
The SDEP is a vision for statewide digital equity that will guide broad strategies and goals. The plan is in response to federal requirements for the Digital Equity Act, a $2.75 billion federal program part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Plan 2: Initial Proposal for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program
The Initial Proposal for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program outlines funding and deployment of high-speed internet access across the state. The document is in response to federal requirements for the BEAD Program, created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and provides $42.45 billion to expand high-speed internet access across all 50 states.
Together, these documents will serve as the roadmap for millions of federal dollars and invest in those most impacted by the digital divide. To provide input, it is recommended to read the Executive Summary or the plan in full detail. After reading the plan documents, submit comments electronically or submit typed or written public comments using the printable form which can be mailed to:
Massachusetts Broadband Institute
Attn: MBI Public Comment
75 North Drive
Westborough, MA 01581
What is a helpful comment:
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) suggests the following tips for an effective comment:
- Support your comment with substantive data, facts, and opinions. When possible, provide your lived experience in your comment.
- Clearly identify the section within the Plan that you are commenting on and include the section number. Although comments should be clear and concise, there is no minimum or maximum length for an effective comment.
- If you disagree with an aspect of the Plan, suggest an alternative and include an explanation and/or analysis of how the alternative might meet the same objective or be more effective.
- Include pros and cons and trade-offs in your comment. Consider other points of view and respond to them with your views. Include examples of how the proposed programs and activities would impact your life and work positively or negatively.
For more information regarding these plans and public comment process click here.
In addition to these plans, MBI is conducting digital equity work across the state through its Municipal Digital Equity Planning Program and the Digital Equity Partnerships Program. The Municipal Digital Equity Planning Program is currently accepting applications and provides technical assistance to 62 cities and towns statewide. The Digital Equity Partnerships Program consists of six connectivity initiatives, including enhanced WiFi Access, modernization of public space internet, connectivity initiatives for those facing economic hardship, digital literacy efforts, device distribution and refurbishment, and education, outreach, and adoption programming.
In October, MBI launched the Gap Networks Grant Program, supported by $145 million in federal funds, to expand access in unserved and underserved locations throughout Massachusetts. The program is currently accepting applications and the deadline for the first round is December 11, 2023.
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 and availability across the Commonwealth. To achieve this, the MBI utilizes state and federal funding to launch infrastructure expansion programs that target areas of the state which lack high-speed internet access, as well as digital equity programs which tackle barriers to internet adoption and increase availability, addressing critical issues around affordability, enhanced public Wi-Fi, the need for internet-enabled devices, and digital literacy training. Learn more about the Massachusetts Broadband Institute at https://broadband.masstech.org.