Last Mile grant to fund broadband network in Worthington 

  • FILE PHOTO  FILE PHOTO

For the Gazette
Published: 1/11/2019 12:15:04 AM

WORTHINGTON – It has been a long haul for Worthington residents to secure broadband internet services, but they are one step closer after the Massachusetts Broadband Institute at MassTech formally approved a $2.2 million Last Mile grant to Comcast to support the construction of a broadband network in town.

Exactly when the broadband network will be up and running is still unclear, but now that the funding has been approved by MBI, Comcast can move forward with applications to Verizon and Eversource for space on the utility poles and preparing them to receive cable.

Comcast is obligated to complete the project by July 2020, according to Select Board Chairman Charlie Rose.

“If things go well, I think the best- case scenario is that we could start seeing people getting service at this time next year,” Rose said.

At the 2017 annual Town Meeting in May, voters selected Comcast, over two other options, to provide high-speed internet service to the town.

They rejected a $2.1 million high-speed broadband network that the town would design, construct, install and own, and turned down a $1,070,000 broadband proposal in conjunction with Matrix Millennium, by which the company would own and operate and give the town an option to buy after three years.

The Comcast network will deliver expanded connectivity to more than 97 percent of Worthington’s homes and businesses once the project is complete.

Under the grant agreement, the state will provide an award of $2,213,809 from the Last Mile program, to supplement Comcast’s capital investment in the construction of the Worthington network.

“Our contribution to the project is $571,904 which we will pay over 15 years,” Rose said.

He also said that the approximately 13 homes that could not be included in the broadband coverage project could be covered at a later date.

“If the town wants to pay the additional amount, we can do that in the future,” he said.

According to Rose, about one third of the town’s residents currently have DSL service. As in other hilltowns that have not yet secured high-speed internet, residents can frequently be seen sitting in their cars with laptops outside of the library and Town Hall in order to tap into their network services.

“I believe the town of Worthington is very pleased to have a path forward to bring broadband service to virtually everyone who wants it,” Rose said. “This has been a long process and a solution would not have been possible without the combined effort of a large number of people, both in and out of government.”

The state has awarded nearly $32 million total to close broadband gaps in western Massachusetts and the Berkshires. Recently retired state Rep. Stephen Kulik called the Last Mile project a “critical initiative,” that will have a major impact on economic development, education, healthcare, and in bringing new people to town.

“Expanding broadband access has been a major issue during my time as a legislator, and I am extremely pleased to see a majority of Last Mile towns now on the path to connectivity, including my hometown of Worthington,” Kulik said.

Of the 53 communities that were either completely or partially unserved at the beginning of 2017, 42 towns have been set on a dedicated path to broadband connectivity and several towns have completed active networks.

With the addition of Worthington, 18 Massachusetts towns are benefitting from Last Mile grants to private providers to expand broadband connections.

Comcast also received a Last Mile grant in June 2017 to support the construction of a new broadband network in Montgomery, which is also completely unserved by broadband.




Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

© 2019 Daily Hampshire Gazette
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy