New Program Expands Wireless Broadband Hubs in Unserved Massachusetts Towns

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New Program Expands Wireless Broadband Hubs in Unserved Massachusetts Towns

Massachusetts and KCST Offer New Wifi Hotspots to Assist COVID-19 Response

WESTBOROUGH – In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) at the MassTech Collaborative and KCST USA, the operator of the Commonwealth-owned MassBroadband 123 fiber optic network, are working with local internet service providers (ISPs) to offer new Wifi hotspots to municipalities that lack broadband access. Built off of the MassBroadband 123 network, this new service offers each unserved community a temporary 250 Megabit per second wireless hotspot, free of any monthly charge. This will allow unserved communities that do not have a completed broadband project to increase wireless broadband access for residents and students impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.

With the support of the MBI, KCST has reached out to local ISPs to offer the temporary wireless hotspot services in unserved communities that do not yet have a completed last-mile broadband network. ISPs that participate in this program must offer the service free of any monthly charge to an eligible community, which will be offered until September 1, 2020. ISPs interested in participating should contact KCST at sales@kcstusa.com or 413-223-6016.

The ISPs will work with each community to establish the hotspot at one of the public community anchor institutions connected to MassBroadband 123, with MBI providing support to the communities as needed. Westfield Gas & Electric is already working with a group of towns that are pursuing a municipally-owned broadband network.  MassBroadband 123 is the 1,200 mile fiber-optic network completed in 2014 through the support of state and federal investments, providing the connections that will anchor the new program.

The first set of active hotspots are listed below. Some ISPs and communities recently launched additional hotspots that are not part of this program.  MBI will continue to track these hotspots and they are included in the list with an asterisk. Communities with independently established hotspots are still eligible to receive a hotspot under this program.

As new hotspot sites are launched, they will be posted at https://broadband.masstech.org/wifi.  MBI expects that each community or ISP will provide residents with instructions on how to access the hotspots.

PLEASE NOTE: It is critical that citizens who use these hotspots follow social distancing protocols in accordance with the guidance issued by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

ACTIVE HOTSPOTS

Town                  

Location

Address             

Provider

Egremont*

Town Hall

171 Egremont Plain Rd

Fiber Connect

Hawley*

Highway Department

247 West Hawley Road

WiValley

Monterey*

Fire Station

411 Main Rd

Fiber Connect

New Marlborough (1/3)

Library

1 Mill River-Gt. Barrington Road

Crocker

New Marlborough (2/3)*

Town Hall

807 Mill River Southfield Road

Crocker

New Marlborough (3/3)*

Fire Station

205 Norfolk Road

Crocker

Westfield Gas & Electric will launch hotspots in fourteen additional communities on a rolling basis over the coming weeks. Those additional towns include:

Town                  

ISP 

Ashfield

WG+E

Blandford

WG+E

Becket

WG+E

Charlemont

WG+E

Chesterfield

WG+E

Colrain

WG+E

Cummington

WG+E

Goshen

WG+E

Heath

WG+E

Leyden

WG+E

New Salem

WG+E

Washington

WG+E

Wendell

WG+E

Windsor

WG+E

Progress continues on the Last Mile projects in unserved communities in Western and Central Massachusetts, which have been supported by over $41 million in direct grants from the Commonwealth's Last Mile program. Seventeen of the 53 communities in the program have completed projects, connectivity which has delivered broadband access to an estimated 16,000 citizens. Broadband construction projects are nearing completion in another 12 communities and service will continue to be rolled out to more residents and businesses in these communities over the coming months.

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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

C: (206) 755-1509

noyes (at) masstech (dot) org