The Massachusetts Broadband Initiative has awarded $1.9 million to three cities – Alford, Otis, and Warwick. The award will go to build out last mile broadband networks in all three towns.
The MBI will allocate $288,775 in grant funding to Alford, and $1,145,975 to Otis. The two municipalities will pursue their last mile projects independently, overseeing the design, construction, and operation of fiber-to-the-home networks. Each town’s fiber network will pass every residence and business located on a public right of way.
Both Alford and Otis have completed the MBI’s Last Mile Readiness Process, an effort launched in May 2016 to close the broadband gap in 44 remaining unserved towns. Each municipality has voter approval of municipal financing for the town’s share of project costs; received the endorsement of the Massachusetts Division of Local Services on the municipal financing plan and municipalities have also begun the initial construction process.
The MBI Board also approved a grant of $450,000 to Warwick to support the upgrade of a legacy, town-owned, wireless network. Warwick will oversee the design, construction and operation of the network upgrade.
The total construction estimate for the project is $690,000, of which $450,000 will be paid for through the town’s construction allocation under the last mile program, with the remaining $240,000 will be financed by Warwick.
The legacy components of the existing Warwick wireless network were supported by a previous grant from the MBI in 2011. The town intends to make substantial equipment upgrades to its existing wireless systems, moving to implement next generation wireless technologies across several bands including 4G and LTE. The combination of wireless technologies being implemented will ensure coverage for all town residents and provide broadband level speeds.
The MBI is working through several efforts to expand broadband in the Commonwealth. In November, the Institute released an RFP asking the private sector for options to close last mile broadband gaps in underserved areas. RFP bids can be for one or all 40 of the towns identified as underserved by MBI. The RFP closes on January 16, 2017.