For Immediate Release - October 28, 2010

PATRICK-MURRAY ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES THE USE OF STATE FIRE TOWERS TO EXPAND BROADBAND ACCESS IN WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS

Four towns to receive expanded Internet service

WESTBOROUGH - October 28, 2010 - As part of the Patrick-Murray Administration's commitment to supporting long-term economic growth, Governor Deval Patrick today announced the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) is awarding the use of three Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) fire towers to expand broadband services in western Massachusetts.

"The expansion of broadband access has been a priority of this Administration since the beginning," said Governor Patrick. "This is an excellent example of collaboration between the Commonwealth and private industry that will help residents and businesses connect to the resources they need and strengthen our state's economy."

A division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the MBI awarded the use of the fire towers to two wireless Internet service providers, WiSpring of Great Barrington and AccessPlus of Byfield. WiSpring and AccessPlus will increase wireless Internet service availability to over 850 residences in Lenox, Richmond, Savoy and Tyringham. By providing access to existing fire towers, the MBI has reduced the cost and time required to deploy broadband infrastructure. Wireless broadband is one of the many technologies that will be used to provide Internet access to western Massachusetts.

"The MBI is committed to bringing high-speed Internet access to the unserved and underserved communities in the Commonwealth," said Judith Dumont, MBI Director. "Using existing fire towers for broadband is an important step toward closing the digital divide, while we construct the MassBroadband 123 fiber-optic network. This is exactly the type of coordination Governor Patrick sought to achieve with the creation of the MBI - a single point of contact on broadband connectivity for the Commonwealth that can help providers successfully navigate impediments and use existing state assets to bring broadband to homes and businesses."

The MBI worked closely with DCR to utilize existing fire towers to expand wireless connectivity for last-mile broadband. The MBI and DCR signed a Memorandum of Understanding to allow 47 fire towers across the state to be used for broadband infrastructure. The three towers awarded through an open and competitive Request for Proposal (RFP) to expand last-mile broadband services are located on Borden Mountain in Savoy, Mt. Lenox in Richmond and Mt. Wilcox in Monterey. The MBI expects to issue subsequent RFPs on a periodic basis for other DCR fire towers.

"It makes enormous sense to use existing state assets to increase broadband availability and help our residents," said DCR Commissioner Rick Sullivan. "DCR is pleased to be part of this new initiative."

"I think it's great what Governor Patrick and the MBI are doing for towns like Tyringham," said Molly Curtin-Schaefer, Tyringham Executive Secretary. "Using these existing fire towers is an innovative way to bring broadband to us quickly without incurring the time and expense of new tower construction."

"Governor Patrick, the MBI and DCR are making it possible for WiSpring to provide additional wireless broadband solutions that will support education, create jobs and bolster the economy," said Crispin Tresp, founder of WiSpring.

Governor Patrick designated the MBI to lead the state's efforts to increase broadband deployment. In July 2010, the MBI was awarded $45.4 million in federal stimulus funding to increase broadband access in north central and western Massachusetts. The funding was awarded through the highly-competitive NTIA Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program (BTOP). The Commonwealth is providing $26.2 million in matching funds, bringing the total investment in the project to $71.6 million.

The MBI's project, MassBroadband 123, will create a robust, fiber-optic network that will connect 123 communities in the western and north central regions of the Commonwealth. MassBroadband 123 will construct approximately 1,100 miles of new fiber-optic cable to connect homes and businesses, as well as community anchor institutions, including community colleges, public safety institutions, hospitals and libraries. The project will expand broadband services to unserved and underserved communities in a service area which covers over one-third of Massachusetts.

For more information, please visit the MBI website at www.massbroadband.org.

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