BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.
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86 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT The central and western regions of Massachusetts, which have long been underserved, are beginning to see the benefts of fber broadband. Community Fiber Networks Boost Economic Development BroadBand Communities held its third conference on broadband and economic development in Springfeld, Mass., in September 2014. Following are highlights of some of the conference presentations. A BBC Staf Report C entral and Western Massachusetts have lagged behind the rest of the state in access to broadband, and dozens of rural towns still have little or no broadband access. Tis situation, which adversely afects those towns' property tax bases, is now changing. In 2008, Governor Deval Patrick established and funded the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI), whose goals are to improve broadband access, adoption and use throughout the state. MBI, in turn, won a federal BTOP grant and constructed a middle-mile network, MassBroadband 123, to provide transport in underserved areas. MassBroadband 123 now connects some 1,200 community anchor institutions, and the state legislature recently approved an additional $50 million to help provide last-mile access for homes and businesses. Te unserved communities have been preparing for the last-mile build. Most of them joined forces to establish WiredWest, which will become the last-mile FTTH operator in the area. According to David Epstein, WiredWest's executive director, about 13,000 households, or nearly half the households in the unserved area, have signed pledge cards showing their intention to subscribe to WiredWest services. MassBroadband 123, which was completed in February 2014, is already helping Massachusetts communities as well as state government agencies. BUILDING FIBER, SAVING MONEY Seven years ago, Kevin Warenda took the job of director of technology in the town of Longmeadow. He inherited a 10 Mbps cable broadband ring that the franchised service provider made available for free to the local government. Te problem was that it didn't work very well. Squirrels and rainstorms frequently brought the system to a grinding halt; even when it was running, it wasn't fast enough. "How could we replace free bad technology with expensive good technology?" Warenda asked. Both the cable provider and the local telephone provider ofered to build a better network and lease it to the city, but Warenda thought the city would be better of building its Connecting Massachusetts