MBI develops program to expand broadband availability in Western Mass.

The Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) is planning to build an open access high speed fiber last mile network in the hopes that large incumbent cable and telcos will come to traditionally underserved Western Mass.-based communities like Mount Washington.

Offering up to $50,000 per service provider and project, winners would provide 25 percent of their own cash-in-kind matching funds. The area is available to any entity interested in providing broadband services, including traditional large carriers down to local municipalities.

Grant awardees will use the funds to deploy broadband services using their own new and existing network infrastructure, including the MassBroadband 123 1,338-mile backbone network that will serve 120 communities in the western and north central parts of Massachusetts.

MBI expects to make a quick decision on who will get the grants. Proposals for Last-Mile Broadband Solutions Grant Program are due on May 9 with announcement of grant awards scheduled in June.

Jason Whittet, deputy director at MBI, said that they are "expecting to get applications from a number of potential providers, big and small, to make it fair and open to the largest possible pool that we could."

Similar to other middle mile initiatives like Open Cape and Maine's Three Ring Binder network, MBI will have a third party run the network. MBI has tasked Axia NGNetworks USA to serve as the network operator for the MassBroadband 123 network.

For more:
- see the release
- The Berkshire Eagle has this article

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