Grant Awarded to Extend Broadband in Egremont & Monterey

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Grant Awarded to Extend Broadband in Egremont & Monterey

WESTBOROUGH – The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech) and the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) have approved a new grant to expand broadband coverage in the unserved towns of Egremont and Monterey, two of three remaining communities under the Commonwealth’s Last Mile program.

The $2,210,000 grant awarded to Monterey-based Fiber Connect, LLC, will help extend the company’s existing networks in each community, expanding service above 96 percent coverage in each community.

The grant to Fiber Connect is being made under the MBI’s Flexible Grant Program, a program launched by the Baker-Polito Administration in October 2017 which sought out creative, flexible solutions to address the broadband gaps in the remaining unserved municipalities. This funding ensures that 52 of the 53 communities under the Last Mile program have received grants for dedicated projects, supported by $45.7 million in direct grants from the Commonwealth.

“Our administration has made expanding high-speed internet a priority and we are encouraged to see the towns of Egremont and Monterey move one step closer to coverage,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The COVID-19 public health emergency highlights how important high-speed internet is for our residents, providing critical links for learning, connecting with family, telehealth, and remote work.”

“We are encouraged to see more and more residents connected by Last Mile projects throughout the Commonwealth,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “We have heard first hand of the positive impact that these projects are having in these communities, and look forward to celebrating the completed projects in Egremont, Monterey, and the remaining unserved communities.”  

Last summer, the MBI, Fiber Connect, and the towns of Egremont and Monterey signed detailed Action Plans to outline the process for engagement among the groups and to “identify the responsibilities and tasks to be undertaken by each party” to help develop and finalize a proposal. The Action Plans led to negotiations between Fiber Connect and the MBI that culminated in a term sheet agreement on a milestone-based payment structure to govern this award, which ties payments to tangible and verifiable progress on the network extensions in each town. The deal includes safeguards to protect the public funds being invested in the projects, as well as a commitment that Fiber Connect will maintain the network and offer broadband service for at least 10 years after each project is completed. 

“We thank Fiber Connect and the leaders in Egremont and Monterey for working with our MBI staff to reach this agreement,” said Carolyn Kirk, executive director of the MassTech Collaborative, the parent agency of the MBI. “This agreement provides for a strong network that will benefit both communities, helping drive economic opportunity and increasing ability of residents to access the new fiber connections.”

“This has been a long time in the making, but it is critical for the towns and the region,” said State Senator Adam G. Hinds. “I am glad this partnership is moving forward in a way that will get high speed internet to residents who have waited far too long. I am grateful to MBI and Fiber Connect for their tireless work on this project.”

"In these hard economic times, the ability to have high speed broadband is going to be critical,” said State Representative Smitty Pignatelli. "This has been a long time, coming and I’m thankful for all of the work of the MBI staff and local officials in Egremont and Monterey put in to reach this agreement.”

Founded in January 2014, Fiber Connect has grown as an internet services provider to serve parts of downtown Great Barrington, Egremont, and Monterey. The company specializes in fiber optic projects, which will also be utilized for the expansions funded through the MBI award.

Founded in January 2014, Fiber Connect has grown as an internet services provider to serve parts of downtown Great Barrington, Egremont, and Monterey. The company specializes in fiber optic projects, which will also be utilized for the expansions funded through the MBI award.

“Fiber Connect is very excited to announce that we will be expanding our highly successful fiber network to nearly 100% coverage in Monterey and Egremont,” said Adam Chait, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Fiber Connect, LLC. “With support from a Massachusetts Broadband Institute grant, we’ll be able to assure digital equality for all citizens and businesses as quickly as National Grid and Verizon can complete utility pole preparation.  We extend a huge thank you to all our supporters for making this a success!”

“It has been a long journey to this important milestone,” said Egremont Select Board Chair George McGurn.  “The effort to obtain funds for this project has been in the works for years, and we are grateful to the MBI and to Fiber Connect for bringing this to a welcome conclusion.”

“We welcome the achievement of this important step in the process of bringing high speed internet to Monterey,” said Selectman Donald Coburn, speaking on behalf of the Monterey Select Board. “We thank the boards of MBI and MassTech for their approvals of the deal and we particularly thank MBI’s Michael Baldino and Adam Chait at Fiber Connect for their hard work in getting us to this point.  There is still a long way to go before we can say mission accomplished, but our confidence in the project has been buttressed and remains strong."

Progress continues on the Last Mile projects in unserved communities in Western and Central Massachusetts. Of the 53 communities in the program, 21 towns have completed projects, connectivity which has delivered broadband access to an estimated 18,000 citizens. Broadband construction is nearing completion in another 11 communities, with service continuing to be rolled out to homes and businesses by the end of the year.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the MBI worked with KCST USA, the operator of the state-owned MassBroadband 123 fiber optic network, to launch Wi-Fi hotspots in the remaining unserved communities. Since the program’s launch in late April, 24 hotspots have been established, helping address the increased demand for broadband from residents and students impacted by the ongoing crisis.

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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.

Contact:                           

Brian Noyes, MassTech/MBI

(508) 870-0312 X:293

noyes (at) masstech (dot) org