July 30, 2009 – Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick announced Tuesday a partnership between the Massachusetts Broadband Institute and the Executive Office of Transportation to bring broadband to unserved and underserved communities in western parts of the state.
The partnership is expected to build on the existing MassHighway project, extending six 1.25-inch fiber-optic conduits from Connecticut to Vermont and enabling “collaboration across state borders in a variety of areas, including public safety, education, e-health and access to Internet2,” according to a statement by the state.
MassHighway will use two of the conduits for its intelligent traffic system, a system designed to improve the flow of traffic throughout the state.
The other conduits will be reserved for economic development and expanding broadband networks in Western Massachusetts. The institute will own the fiber in one of the conduits with plans to lease the other three for future development.
This is the first major infrastructure investment the institute has made, according to MBI Director Sharon Gillett.
A report by the staff at iBerkshires said that “Interstate 91 will literally become the backbone of broadband expansion efforts” in Western Massachusetts through the partnership.
The report added that the project has secured rights-of-way and approval from the conservation commission. Engineering is 70 percent complete with crews and equipment mobilized and construction under way.
“The MBI portion of the project is already benefitting from MassHighway's progress,” the iBerkshire’s staff said.
This project have a significant impact on Shutesbury, Mass., since half of the town is still unconnected, accord to Michael DeChiara, a consultant based in Shutesbury.
Gillett recently accepted an appointment as bureau chief of the Federal Communications Commission’s Wireline Competition Bureau. She will remain at MBI through August 14, and will begin her work at the FCC on August 28.