22 towns authorize $34.5M for fiber. 6,700+ deposits on service

After creating a telecommunications coop to bring broadband to rural communities in Western Mass, and completing four years of planning, WiredWest member towns have signaled they’re ready to move forward with a regional fiber-optic network, informed by the Wiredwest website and syndicated by Engadget.

Over the last two months, 22 WiredWest communities have passed bond authorizations totaling $34.5 million for their towns’ portions of costs to build a fiber-optic network. The votes have been characterized by record attendance and passage by overwhelming margins, including three unanimous town votes.

On June 29th, the Town of Goshen became the 20th town to authorize their funding with a record turnout of 240 voters. In fact, the meeting had to move from Town Hall to the nearby Congregational Church in order to accommodate everyone, which is the second meeting of a WiredWest town on the bond authorization that has had to do so.

According to WiredWest Delegate, Bob Labrie, “Our family has lived in Goshen for almost 30 years. Over that time during town meeting, we’ve debated the costs of a fire truck, an ambulance, several highway trucks and police cruisers, capping our dump, a new elementary school, an addition to the high school and now the construction of a regional broadband network. Never in the history of Goshen have we had to change the venue of the meeting because so many people turned out.”

All 240 voters were unanimous in their support of the bond authorization. In Labrie’s words, “In the end, history was made. Never before had the town been so galvanized on a topic like this. Never before had there been a unanimous vote in favor of a project of this magnitude. Some might call it divine intervention. I just think of it as the right thing to do for the future of our region.”

The following evening, the towns of Chesterfield and Heath also passed their bond authorizations. Several more towns will be voting over the coming months in order to meet the deadline of June 2016 to qualify for the state’s portion of funding. Given the authorizations passed so far, the state funds qualified for amounts to $18.5 million.

So far the WiredWest Coop has received over 6,700 deposits for service, representing a third of potential subscribers, and 15 towns have more than 40% of premises subscribed. Tallies for each town can be seen here.

As the town votes are progressing, WiredWest is working with the Massachusetts Broadband Institute on pre-construction planning, including procurement of professional services, detailed network design and make ready work. Progress is also being made on financing.

Source: Wiredwest

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