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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Massachusetts Broadband Stimulus: Governor Patrick Announces Funding Recommendations Made to NTIA

StimulatingBroadband.com 10/15/09 San Francisco - Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D-MA) yesterday communicated to the National Information and Telecommunications Administration (NTIA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce his funding recommendations from among the various applications for federal broadband stimulus monies for proposed projects in the Bay State.

In a 9-page letter (see: Resources, below) addressed to NTIA chief Lawrence E. Strickling of yesterday's date, Patrick endorsed a package of applications covering 3 areas of the Commonwealth:

1. The Western Massachusetts applications group, coordinated by the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI), the state broadband program created and championed by Patrick's administration itself. The Western Massachusetts applications have as their centerpiece a $ 100 million middle mile fiber project filed by the MBI.

2. The application for $ 40 million in funding submitted by OpenCape, the non-profit organization proposing a 350-mile optical fiber middle mile project throughout Cape Cod and adjacent areas of Bristol and Plymouth Counties in southeast Massachusetts. OpenCape is partnered with RCN Optical Networks, an operating division of RCN Corp. (NASDAQ: RCNI).

3. The consolidated applications submitted by the administration of Mayor Thomas M. Menino for the City of Boston.

In a statement released this morning by the MBI, headquartered in Westborough, MA, the integrated projects for the rural areas of western Massachusetts were described:

"In August 2009, the MBI submitted proposals for over $100 million in federal stimulus funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The funding request is divided into two proposals – a request for $100 million for broadband infrastructure in western Massachusetts was sent to the federal Broadband Initiatives Program, Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, and a request for $2.4 million for statewide broadband mapping was sent to the State Broadband Data and Development Program.

In the $100 million application, the MBI proposes to build broadband fiber infrastructure totaling $125 million that will provide citizens of the 43 unserved and underserved communities of western Massachusetts with world-class, future-proof broadband Internet access. Specifically, the MBI proposes to build a fiber “middle mile” network throughout the western region of the state that, in addition to bringing broadband access to these communities, would provide direct connection to regional anchor institutions and critical community facilities.

The project, which would create up to 3,040 jobs, would be developed in collaboration and partnership with other state and local government entities, non-profits, and for-profit companies. It is a vital part of the MBI’s plan to create economic opportunities and lead to improvements in the areas of public safety, education, health care, and other vital services through broadband expansion.

Within each community, interconnection will be made available at cost to private or non-profit Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that will enter into contractual relationships with the MBI to provide “last-mile access” to the public Internet for residents, businesses, and local community anchor institutions including schools, libraries, police stations, and town hall facilities.

The project area covers 1,591 square miles, roughly one-third of the Commonwealth, and would bring new broadband access to 20,337 households and 5,750 businesses. Numerous anchor institutions, public safety entities, and critical community organizations in the region have expressed interest in being involved with the project and being connected to the network that the MBI proposes to build.

The fiber-optic network would build on a recently announced $4.3 million, 55-mile segment of MBI fiber currently being deployed along the Interstate 91 corridor in western Massachusetts. This partnership with the Massachusetts Highway Department constitutes a “match” from Massachusetts towards the federal funding proposal.

Governor Patrick’s prioritization letter to the NTIA yesterday includes not only the MBI’s middle-mile infrastructure application but also the synergistic and complementary sustainable broadband adoption and public computing center applications from Western MA Connect (using the Franklin Regional Council of Governments as its fiscal agent) that collectively focus on geographic areas of Massachusetts where the need is greatest," the statement concluded.

StimulatingBroadband.com's State - NTIA Resources:
1. The Massachusetts filing (9 pages) issued to NTIA may be read and downloaded here (free registration), via our corporate site.

2.
Read all of our state filing stories here: Round I Recommendations to NTIA. StimulatingBroadband.com
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