Boston- State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) is pleased to announce that today the Massachusetts Senate voted unanimously – 38-0 – to give its final approval to a $40 million investment plan to establish a state Broadband Institute and promote investment in telecommunications infrastructure to launch broadband connectivity in the remaining 32 unserved communities by 2010.
There are 32 communities in the Commonwealth without access to high speed internet, all but one in western Massachusetts. An additional 63 municipalities statewide are considered partially served, with broadband access available in limited areas of the community.
Representing 22 unserved and 15 partially served communities in his Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin Senate District, Downing has made passage of the broadband bond his top legislative priority this session. Since the Patrick Administration’s unveiling of the spending plan on the steps of Becket Town Hall on August 2, 2007, Downing has been a champion of the initiative, working with Senate Leadership, his House colleagues and the Administration to ensure its swift passage.
The legislation creates the Massachusetts Broadband Institute within the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC) to secure existing resources and expertise to meet the ambitious goal of procuring broadband service for the 32 unserved communities by the year 2010. The Massachusetts Broadband Incentive Fund, created in this bill, is subsidized by a $40 million bond authorization. Public-private partnerships will be sought by the Broadband Institute to develop infrastructure in all corners of the Commonwealth, prioritizing currently unserved communities.
With the final enactment of the legislation secured today, the bill will be laid before the Governor for his final approval. Patrick has ten days to review and act on this legislation.