Questions persist as internet build-out continues

A fiber-optic network that’s now under constriction has begun to provide high-speed internet to some under-served parts of western Massachusetts. But it’s still unclear how that connection will make its way to residents and businesses in these areas. 

The network will bring speedy internet tantalizingly close to people in western Massachusetts towns where it’s now unavailable—a handful of public places, like libraries and town halls, will be connected.

Businesses and homes are another story.

Monica Webb of Wired West, a quasi-public organization advocating for broadband expansion, says the best chance to finish the job could be in Governor Deval Patrick’s remaining sixteen months in office.

“We don’t know what the next administration will bring. They may be equally supportive but they may not, so understanding that we do have the governor’s support now, we want to make sure we fast-track this as quickly as possible to get it done during his administration.”

Another round of build-out will still be necessary to provide door-to-door internet service, a project that Webb says could cost up to one hundred million dollars. Patrick supports a forty million dollar bond bill now before the state legislature, but the rest of the total would have to come from a to-be-determined combination of loans and, perhaps, private investment. 

Also unknown is what internet provider or providers will step up to offer service.