Letter: Connected together
An editorial in the July 16 Recorder lamented the fact that some of the residents of Shelburne and Buckland are stuck in “Internet purgatory” without adequate online connectivity. Those towns are members of the WiredWest Cooperative, along with 40 other member towns in western Massachusetts that also live in that purgatory, as do I personally. WiredWest is dedicated to bringing robust and affordable broadband to the people and businesses who don’t have it. We have seen that commitment shared by our governor, our local elected officials and state partners like the Massachusetts Broadband Institute. For example, Gov. Patrick recently proposed a $40 million investment in “last-mile” connectivity in western Massachusetts, currently working its way through the state Legislature. The proposed funds would support last-mile solutions in 45 unserved and underserved towns, and it would be administered by the Massachusetts Broadband Institute after they successfully complete MassBroadband 123, a “middle-mile” network serving 1,200 community facilities across western Massachusetts. This is not a complete solution, but it is an important first step toward reaching our regional goals. Additional last-mile funds can and will be sought from the federal government and other sources. WiredWest recognizes the specific solutions in each town may vary depending on a number of factors, which will need to be carefully weighed to ensure WiredWest adheres to its mission while maintaining its requirement of financial sustainability. We are confident that if we continue to collaborate and advocate for our region as a whole, connectivity is in our sights. It’s no fun being in purgatory, but working together is our only way out.
Chair of the board of directors