PATRICK-MURRAY ADMINISTRATION CELEBRATES $4.1 MILLION FOR BROADBAND ASSISTANCE TO HELP MASSACHUSETTS VETERANS & SMALL BUSINESSES
$1 million to provide technical assistance for veterans, $1 million to small businesses
In partnership with the Massachusetts congressional delegation, the Patrick-Murray Administration worked to secure this federal stimulus funding that will create new broadband adoption programs for both veterans and small businesses and also provide continued support for the state's broadband availability mapping program. The funding was awarded to the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI), a division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
"The expansion of broadband access for unserved and underserved communities has been a priority of this Administration since day one," said Governor Deval Patrick. "We look forward to helping small businesses and veterans connect to the resources they need."
The first of the two new broadband adoption programs is a comprehensive web portal for veterans and family members to make online access of veterans' services more streamlined, safe and effective. Lieutenant Governor Murray highlighted this specific funding today at an event with the veterans community hosted by the Massachusetts National Guard in Wellesley.
"Through this federal stimulus funding, Massachusetts will enhance critical services and resources for several communities in the Commonwealth," said Lieutenant Governor Murray, who chairs the Governors Advisory Council on Veterans Services. "We thank our congressional delegation for their support to help not only expand broadband services but also develop innovative ways to support our veterans and small businesses in Massachusetts."
"The Massachusetts National Guard is enhanced by its many veterans and their experience; therefore, I am extremely grateful that our veterans and families will have the opportunity to access this amazing, comprehensive Internet service," said Major General Joseph C. Carter, The Adjutant General, Massachusetts National Guard. "Making online access to veterans' services more streamlined, safe and effective will result in increased benefits to veterans, families and communities throughout Massachusetts.
In addition to streamlining veterans' services, this federal funding will also allow the state's community development corporations to provide technical assistance for local small businesses. The MBI will work closely with approximately 40 small businesses and non-profit organizations interested in growing and creating jobs, while also fully integrating broadband use and computer ownership into their organizations and the programs they run.
"Reliable broadband service is an essential building block for the Massachusetts economy. This investment will help bridge the technological divide in the western and north-central regions, and help veterans and small businesses compete and win in the job market," said Senator John Kerry.
"Internet access is not only a matter of competitive advantage for large businesses, it is also becoming a necessary and critical component of everyday life," Congressman Stephen F. Lynch said. "Improving broadband benefits cities and towns throughout Massachusetts and I am pleased to see that Governor Patrick has targeted these stimulus funds to help our veterans and small businesses while expanding broadband access in underserved communities."
"This federal funding creates two new vital programs and enhances our state's ability to identify and bring high-speed Internet connections to unserved and underserved communities. The online portal for veterans and their families is an excellent use of funding in support of the heroes to whom our country owes so much. The funding to assist small businesses will spark growth, while the mapping funds are key to closing the digital divide. I congratulate the Patrick Administration for its tremendous work to bring this federal funding to the Commonwealth," said Congressman Edward Markey.
"I'm very pleased that the Massachusetts Broadband Institute will receive this funding," said Congressman James McGovern. "In order to fully compete in the 21 st Century economy, we must do everything we can to provide access to high-speed broadband to all of our communities. I'm particularly pleased that these funds will target small businesses and our veterans."
"These additional funds are crucial for identifying the households and businesses where broadband is most urgently needed. This will allow for a more effective roll-out of broadband across western Massachusetts," said Congressman John Olver. "This funding will also provide technical assistance to our veterans and our small businesses. I am excited to see this project continuing to move forward."
Today's announced funding also included an award of $2 million for broadband mapping. These mapping funds will be used to develop address level data files to pinpoint broadband availability in communities that are underserved or unserved by broadband. These files will help Internet service providers identify effective ways to bring affordable, high-speed broadband Internet access to these communities.
Governor Patrick designated the MBI to lead the state's efforts to increase broadband deployment. The MBI previously received $2.1 million in mapping funds in November 2009. This funding has been used to create the first statewide map of broadband infrastructure.
"The MBI is committed to bringing broadband to the unserved and underserved areas of the Commonwealth, and putting an end to the digital divide in western and north central Massachusetts," said Judith Dumont, MBI Director. "This funding will enhance the MBI's ability to expand broadband to those areas that are unconnected, and will help veterans and small businesses take advantage of online resources."
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 Technology 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 network, MassBroadband 123, will be a 1,338 mile fiber-optic network that will connect 123 communities in western and north central Massachusetts. The robust network provides the necessary broadband infrastructure to foster economic growth, improve health care and education and strengthen public safety.
In 2008, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law the Broadband Act, legislation he introduced after becoming Governor, which created the MBI. The MBI is investing $40 million in state funds in long-lived, carrier-neutral infrastructure assets to promote broadband expansion to unserved and underserved areas, primarily in western Massachusetts, where the digital divide is most acute. Since then, the MBI has successfully competed for and leveraged an additional $83.5 million in federal stimulus funding for related broadband infrastructure and improvement in Massachusetts, including MassBroadband 123 and OpenCape. Through these investments and others, the Patrick-Murray Administration is laying the essential groundwork necessary for business and institutions to collaborate and expand, to boost the innovative capacity, and to spur overall economic growth in the Commonwealth.
For more information on the Massachusetts Broadband Institute, please visit www.massbroadband.org.