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SiFi Proposes Open-Access Network in Lowell, Ajit Pai on Broadband Farming

Emily McPhie

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SiFi Networks has offered to install and maintain a new fiber optic network in Lowell, Massachusetts—at no cost to the city. This infrastructure would pave the way for new internet service providers to compete with Comcast, which is currently the main internet provider within the city.

“Increasing competition is one of the best ways to improve quality, lower prices and lead to more people getting online and addressing that digital divide," said New York University professor Robert Seamans to the Lowell Sun.

SiFi Networks, a private company building open access networks that multiple providers are able to utilize, in April announced that it will build such a network in Fullerton, California. It expects that to be the largest private open access network in the country.

The company’s proposal to Lowell includes the option to use the network to create smart city applications.  That permits the network to be used to improve security, maintenance, and traffic management, provide remote health services to treat patients at home, reduce snow days through e-Learning apps, and more, according to SiFi Networks President Scott Bradshaw.

New task force will bring connectivity to farms and ranches

On Monday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced the formation of a new task force to support broadband deployment to unserved agricultural areas. The task force, which stems from the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, will work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop specific policy recommendations.

“As I’ve traveled the country, I’ve seen the amazing efficiencies, innovations, and improvements that high-speed internet brings to today’s farms and ranches,” said Chairman Pai. “This is the present and the future of American agriculture, and we must do whatever we can to support these producers and enhance precision agriculture.”

The FCC hopes to include agricultural producers, Tribal agriculture representatives, internet service providers, precision agriculture equipment managers, and more in the 15-member task force.

(Photo of Lowell by John Phelan.)

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