BOSTON – State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D- Pittsfield) announces today that the Massachusetts Senate has passed an Information Technology bond bill (IT Bond) which includes a $50 million reserve to support the Massachusetts Broadband Incentive Fund, which is used by the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) to further its mission.
“Securing broadband access for every address in my district that wishes to have it has been a top priority since 2007,” said Downing. “Due to the unrelenting advocacy of my colleagues in the western Massachusetts legislative delegation and the leadership of Governor Patrick, we have come a long way in bridging the digital divide that existed in Massachusetts just a few years ago. It is almost incomprehensible to believe that in 2007 there were 32 communities with absolutely no access to high speed Internet in western and central Massachusetts. This reality directly and negatively impacted the economic growth, educational opportunities and public safety of our region. Today, due to the efforts of the MBI, there are no remaining unserved communities. It is my hope that the funding authorized in today’s IT Bond will be used over the next three years to achieve our goal of universal broadband access.”
Created by an act of the Legislature (the Broadband Act of 2008), the MBI is a division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC) tasked with achieving the deployment of affordable, universal high speed broadband access across the Commonwealth. Since 2008 the MBI has completed construction of the MassBroadband 123, a fiber-optic cable network connecting more than 120 western and central Massachusetts cities and towns to the Internet.
This “Middle Mile” network expanded high-speed Internet access to communities that were completely unserved or underserved in 2008, improving the lives of residents, closing the digital divide and bringing new economic opportunities to western and central Massachusetts.
The $50 million provided in today’s IT Bond will support MBI’s efforts to develop the “Last Mile” solution, so that every resident, business, school, nonprofit, city or town, regardless of geographic location, service provider or address will have access to high speed Internet service.