Nicole LaChapelle: Launching of high-speed Internet a success story for region

Last modified: Monday, October 19, 2015

To the editor:

The ability for residents to access high-speed Internet these days is just as critical as it was to access phone lines or paved roads in the mid-1900s. But many rural towns in western Massachusetts have been left decades behind in the connectivity revolution, struggling with slow, or no connection.

Former Gov. Deval Patrick, who himself owns a home in western Massachusetts, recognized this problem early on in his administration as he launched the Massachusetts Broadband Institute, dedicating millions in state and federal funding to help connect our unconnected towns.

This month’s launch of Leverett’s fiber-optic internet network, detailed in the Oct. 3 Gazette, is a great success story in this work to build a “backbone” of fiber-optic data transmission lines across western Massachusetts.

Leverett is the first of about 45 rural communities in western and central Massachusetts to complete the so-called “last mile” network, which ties into a 1,200-mile fiber-optic network built by the Massachusetts Broadband Institute.

Bringing high-speed Internet to our underserved communities will help schools and libraries run sophisticated computer labs and give students the tools they need to study and complete their homework.

And the networks will operate at speeds multiple-times faster than average connections in greater Boston, and at a similar cost. This will help our region attract high-tech businesses, access critical tele-health services and bring more economic competition to the area.

Patrick’s team recognized this opportunity early on and made the investments needed to advance this critical project. I hope the Baker administration follows through on the work remaining to connect our remaining underserved communities.

Nicole LaChapelle



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