Call it a microcosm of the dilemma faced by rural American towns everywhere: the broadband situation in western Massachusetts, just a couple of hours' drive away from tech hub Boston, is "dismal," the co-author of a new report on last-mile internet access says.
A regional cooperative called WiredWest in Massachusetts was on the cusp of launching a fiber network buildout that would connect to the middle-mile network run by a state agency, the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI). But that move has been delayed by the state administration's "indifference," says Susan Crawford, co-author (along with David Talbot and Waide Warner) of "Wired West: a Cooperative of Municipalities Forms to Build a Fiber-Optic Network," a case study published by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.
"Dozens of small towns in Western Mass. have been working for years towards forming a cooperative in an effort to take advantage of economies of scale -- and to ensure their homes and businesses have future-proof, 21st century fiber connections. But they've been met with indifference at the state level," Crawford wrote in an article detailing the report. Backchannel article