The MBI plan to broaden broadband connections in Massachusetts will not be a fulfilled mission if it does not include public access television centers such as WCCA TV 13 as primary ANCHOR INSTITUTIONS.
When it comes to broadband inclusion in that network project, centers such as WCCA TV 13 are anchor institutions second to none when it comes to the need for community inclusion for broadband use. Let’s not forget cable was the first broadband. The public access mission should not be compromised because of moving from cooper to glass modes of transmission. Furthermore a move from distribution from linear to non-linear to move data, video and other forms of communication is irrelevant as there will always be a segment of the community in need of a means to connect, or tools of producing content, training and more, as public access centers provides on a day to day basis. For Public access the bottom line is one built upon community participation, inclusiveness with a goal to empower. Broadband should NOT be just be about serving profit driven initiatives or limited to government use. This is electronic common space we are talking about.
In today’s Telegram we read the following:
Speedy Internet on its way
Mass. Broadband Institute on mission
By Lynne Klaft CORRESPONDENT
FITCHBURG — If the Massachusetts Broadband Institute fulfills its mission, high-speed, high-volume Internet service will be in every corner of northern Central and Western Massachusetts in the next few years.
Gov. Deval Patrick created the agency in 2008 to bring low-cost high-speed Internet access to all homes, businesses and public buildings in the region. The groundwork for a north-to-south underground conduit from the Connecticut state line to Vermont is now complete.
MBI Director Judith Dumont said at a Fitchburg State University forum last week that her agency worked with the state Department of Transportation to lay miles of fiber-optic cable along Interstate 91. The network, MassBroadband 123, is being tested now and is expected to be “lit” in December.
That network will eventually bring high-speed Internet service to more than 120 cities and towns in Western and northern Central Massachusetts.
“The cable that was laid has 576 strands of fiber. One fiber is enough to support all the voice traffic in Massachusetts, so you can see we are overbuilding, building for the future,” said Ms. Dumont.
Once the network is up and running, Internet providers can sign contracts with MBI to lease space on the network with the goal of providing service to areas that lack Internet access or are underserved. Eight providers have already signed letters of intent.
The agency also plans to connect 1,300 community “anchor institutions” — schools, town halls, police and fire stations, hospitals, libraries, colleges and state government offices. The anchor institutions are being reviewed, building by building.
The fiber cable will be strung to the pole in front of the building and a connection made to the building. However, the anchor institution must pay service fees and for internal network computer equipment.
MBI has also completed a survey of 35,000 utility poles on which fiber-optic cables will be placed.
“Many of these are jointly owned telephone and electric company poles, and agreements will be signed with all of the owners. Considering that we have had two tornadoes, one hurricane and a record-breaking snowstorm in October since we started, work has slowed a bit,” said Ms. Dumont.
Steps to put the network infrastructure in place include the permitting process at state and local levels, securing access approvals and the scheduling with pole owners to complete work necessary to string fiber optic cables.
“We’ve had storms and strikes. What’s next? Locusts? Cost estimates are coming in higher than expected, but we are looking into other funding resources,” said Ms. Dumont.
The agency expects to complete stringing cable in 2012.
The MBI was awarded $45.4 million in federal stimulus funding, and the state is providing $26.2 million in matching money for the MassBroadband 123 network.
Completion of the network is scheduled for 2013. The network will use 1,338 miles of cable and serve 333,500 households and 44,000 businesses in an area populated with about 1 million people.
Fitchburg State University’s Regional Economic Development Institute has been mapping northern Central Massachusetts using a geographic information system.
The database that the college has compiled for MBI includes estimated cable services, estimated DSL services, and business sites by address, including specific business Internet needs. Teams of students drove through northern Central Massachusetts with smartphones to collect the data, measuring broadband availability; then confirming it with the communities that they were in.
MBI is mapping broadband availability across the state. The information will be incorporated into the Federal Communications Commission’s National Broadband Map.
The institute was awarded $1 million from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to help local small businesses with technical plans, digital learning and training.
Another $1 million grant will be used to develop a “veterans’ portal,” to connect veterans to the resources they need and to create an online veterans services site that is streamlined and accessible.
Mayor Lisa A. Wong of Fitchburg sees broadband as the future.
“I needed a translator at first to understand what MBI was doing, but I have seen what it can do
“Broadband is the future of the city and the future of our nation. We have to close that digital divide, connect the unconnected,” said the mayor.